Study Shows High Pollutant Levels in Mothers Milk

by : Dr John Roberts

There is no doubt mothers’ milk is the best food in the world for the babies. Unfortunately, mothers’ milk of today ain't the same as the mothers' milk thirty years ago. A recent study confirmed previous findings that American mothers' milk contains high levels of toxic chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl esters (PBDEs), among other toxic pollutants such as PCBs and dioxins.

The study was conducted by an environment-concerned group called Northwest Environment Watch. Milk from 40 breastfeeding women in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and Montana were analyzed for PBDEs.

The study found that PDBEs are present in the milk of all women ranging from 6 to 321 parts per billion (ppb) with 50 ppb as the medium level. These numbers are high compared to mothers’ milk in Sweden and Japan where the pollutants in mothers’ milk are generally below 3 ppb.

The levels of these chemicals are high enough to trigger toxicity reactions in lab mice in which PBDEs can cause productive problems and cancers, and damage the nervous system.

In Europe, two of three types of PBDEs have been banned and the third one will be banned soon. In the U.S., these pollutants have not drawn enough attention to consider any protective measures.

PBDEs, chemically and toxicologically like PCBs that can cause the same health problems, are generally used as flame retardants in household products such as furniture, consumer electronics, and carpets.

Studies found not long ago that dust sucked inside computers contains a level of PBDEs that can be as high as 300 part per million. Studies also found that many foods are polluted with PBDEs. Cases of household electronics can also carry quite a lot of PBDEs. PBDEs are ubiquitous and we are in no way able to escape from these pollutants.

Still, physicians recommend that babies be fed mothers’ milk for at least one year or more if so desired by the mother or the baby because of the overwhelming health benefits from the best baby food.