We should be worried | Centre for Science and Environment


We should be worried

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Mother could be passing on toxins through breast milk

Mother's milk should be pristine. After all that's the one food that provides newborns with all the nutrients and benefits their growing bodies require. Nutrition experts recommend that babies be breast fed for at least the first six months after birth. Organisations such as the United Nation's Children's Emergency Fund and the World Health Organization are strong votaries of breast feeding, and many countries even have laws that forbid breast milk substitutes, such as lactogen, in maternity wards of public hospitals. But now there are aspersions that pesticide residues have compromised breast milk.

A mother's complaint Writing in the us daily, New York Times, Florence Williams -- environmental journalist and a nursing mother herself -- notes, "When we nurse our babies we feed them not only the fats, sugars and proteins that help the immune system we also feed them... minuscule amounts of paint thinners, dry cleaning fluids, wood preservatives, cosmetic additives, gasoline by-products, termite poisons and fungicide. Ocean and marine foods contain high mercury levels and mothers who eat them pass on to their children in one form or the other". Williams' worries are not unfounded. She got her own milk tested for polybrominated diphenylthers (pbd), a flame retardant . The pbd levels were found to be 36 parts per billion (ppb). That's seven times below the safe-level, but lets not forget that Williams' breast-feeding daughter is likely to be exposed to pbd- laced milk throughout her infancy.

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