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mothers body burden of chemicals (dioxins etc) is BF really best these days?

(9 Posts)
fruitybaubles Mon 10-Jan-11 08:19:42

I'm still bf my 7.5 month old (exclusively BF til 6 months) and following on from the recent egg contamination with dioxins story in the news I've been wondering whether BF really is the best thing for babies these days.

One of the reports I read mentioned the accumulation of dioxins etc over time in the body and that they are released during lactation.

I think I just need some help getting some perspective on this really. I can't bear the thought that I've been breastfeeding my baby in the belief I'm doing the best thing but in reality I've been offloading all the nasty environmental toxins my body has accumulated over the years from the things I've eaten, the paints/household cleaners/flame retardents/pesticides I've been exposed to during my life into him. Does anybody know anything about this kind of thing? Is there any way of getting your milk tested for contaminants to see if it really is best for you personally to breastfeed?

I lost quite a bit of sleep last night worrying about this, though it has to be said I'm worrying about quite a few things at the moment - maybe the night feeds are starting to get to me. Breastfeeding has been really really hard and I'm feeling like maybe formula would actually have been best after all.

All I can find on the subject is things that say breastfeeding is still best regardless, but how can it be?

Guacamole Mon 10-Jan-11 08:28:05

Can't help but I've been wondering the same thing, still breastfeeding DS (9 months). My gut instinct is there must be a variety of equipment, chemical cleaners etc... involved in the manufacturing process of formula as well, and irrespective of what my body has been exposed to at least I know exactly where his milk has come from.

CamperFan Mon 10-Jan-11 09:02:00

Really I think you are worrying far too much OP. You have done a great job in feeding your baby thus far. Perhaps you are trying to find reasons to stop? You shouldn't feel guilty about stopping if this is the case. *Guacamole" is right - the milk comes from you and you have fed him/her in the most natural way, regardless of any build up of toxins. In anycase the baby is exposed to all those toxins from the moment they are born - modern life!!

TruthSweet Mon 10-Jan-11 09:28:16

Do cows not get exposed to dioxins or other pollutants then?

There was a study done on pre-natal DDT exposure here It found that breastfeeding mitigated the pre-natal exposure (pre-natal exposure to DDT has previously been ascribed as having a limiting effect on pre-schooler cognition) so even though the child would have been exposed to DDT through the mother's milk they did better on cognition test (if duration of bf was greater than 20 weeks).

So in some instances BF, whilst providing further exposure to the toxins, may give some protection against the effects of the toxins, where as not/short duration of bfing may not.

I'll have a scout around for further papers to see what they say but if you are already bfing, and unless you plan on building a clean room for your child to live in and just giving them an elemental diet, they will continue to be exposed to toxins/pollutants for as long as they are alive.

To worry excessively about this is a bit worrying to be honest (I have done things like this and I have/had PND-OCD). Do you find yourself ruminating on things like this a lot?

TruthSweet Mon 10-Jan-11 09:46:30

This study looked at non-breastfed infants - they still were exposed to dioxins. Unfortunately they didn't compare the non-bf infants to bf infants giving health/cognition outcomes with longitudinal outcomes as well but there never is the prefect study.

There is even a lot of literature on the effects of dioxins on the ability to bf - it seems some bfing 'failures' could be down to the effect of dioxin on breast tissue and how it can disturb the endocrine system. So perhaps women with really high dioxin levels are not able to bf fully/at all so if you can bf you would have lower levels (or at least a high threshold for interference). Just supposition though.

fruitybaubles Mon 10-Jan-11 10:08:26

Thank you for replying.

They are interesting studies TruthSweet, thank you. Particularly that certain contaminants might actually prevent bf, I've had no problem with milk supply (there's been loads right from the start) so that's reassuring.

I don't think I subconsciously want to use this as an excuse to stop bf - I want to bf until at least 2, if not longer - as long as I trust it is safe to do so. Plus, I've tried to introduce follow on milk on a number of occasions but it isn't well received.

I do ruminate about this kind of stuff constantly, I hate it. It just seems like every day there is something else to worry about - usually health related.

TruthSweet Mon 10-Jan-11 10:26:28

I'm saying this gently and as someone who has been there, done that and got the meds to prove it.....

It's not normal to be constantly worrying or be constantly trapped in a cycle of 'if I do this I'll cause harm, if I don't do this I'll cause harm' and to be second guessing every decision you make because 'how do I know if it's the right one or the wrong one?'. High anxiety isn't good for you and I think talking to someone (GP/HV/your DP) about how you are feeling would be a good start.

I don't mean to be patronising and I hope you don't get offended by this post. I just hate the thought of someone going through what I did with the constant ruminations, and the indecision, and the bad feelings that can accompany post-natal illness. It makes motherhood a very scary place to be and not the cross between joy and drudgery it should be wink

If you want to have a talk then PM me.

Porcelain Mon 10-Jan-11 15:37:14

Cows are directly exposed to pesticides (feed and anti parasite) hormones and antibiotics in feeds, high strength cleaning products, plus anything we might also get from water supplies etc, and contaminants from the farm environment.

Then there are chemicals from storing and processing the milk (and cleaning containers)and contaminants from packaging (like aluminium in cartons), and of course the bacteria in powder.

Even if breastmilk had the same contamination, the immune protection it offers would make it worthwhile.

poppydog10 Mon 10-Jan-11 17:31:00

Agree with Porcelain and Truthsweet. Cows are exposed to toxins too. Breast milk is designed for human babies so therefore it is best for them.

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