Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Concerns Raised on Breast Milk

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Concerns Raised on Breast Milk

Article excerpt

Universally, doctors agree that the best nourishment for infants, physically and psychologically, is mother's breast milk. Public health advocates are beginning to ask if breast milk is a potential source of exposure to toxic substances for nursing infants. Toxic chemicals including DDT, PCBs, TCDD, mercury, lead, and other substances have been found in breast milk. New information about the existence of these chemicals in the environment is reviving the issue. Dr. Jill Stein and Dr. Ted Schettler wrote an editorial in a Lexington, Massachusetts, newspaper that a nursing infant in the United States consumes five times the daily allowable levels of PCBs set by international health standards for a 150-pound adult.

The risks are much higher in sites of high exposure. The Inuit people of Canada who live close to the Arctic Circle subsist on a diet of fish and marine animals that are contaminated by long-lived toxic chemicals. The contaminated fish has affected the women's breast milk and, in turn, affected their infants by depressing their immune systems and making them more susceptible to meningitis and ear diseases. …

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