Dioxin and Breast Milk
"Breast milk has all of the mothers
immune defenses in it
Its like getting your first booster shot from Heaven."
The Washington Post, June 7, 2000
New mothers may be concerned about news of dioxin in breast
milk, and some may be wondering if breast feeding is still
the safest and healthiest choice for their children. The answer
is "yes," according to medical experts from around the world
and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which noted
that "the benefits of breast feeding far outweigh potential
risks," when the agency released a draft reassessment of dioxin
and its alleged health effects in June 2000.
While medical experts have known for decades that trace amounts
of chemicals, including dioxin, can be transferred from the
mother to nursing infants, the average intake through breast
feeding is considered to be well below the concentrations
that might cause adverse health effects. Furthermore,
according to a 1998 report by the World Health Organization
(WHO), concentrations of dioxin in breast milk are down by
at least 50 percent within the past 10 years in the majority
of industrialized countries and are continuing to decline.
Here are what some of the worlds leading authorities
on infant health and breastfeeding have to say about the issue:
[Breast milk is] "the preferred source of feeding for
almost all babies for at least the first year of life," because
"breast feeding provides health, nutritional, immunologic,
developmental, psychological, social, economic and environmental
advantages unmatched by other feeding options."
American Academy of Pediatrics
"Breastfeeding reduces the risk of asthma. Breastfeeding
reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Breast-fed
children are also less likely to be obese later in life."
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D.,
"Breastfeeding offers advantages which far outweigh
the risk of ingesting possible contaminants."
La Leche League International
"Breastfeeding should be encouraged and promoted on the
basis of convincing evidence of the benefits of human milk
to the overall health and development of the infant."
World Health Organization
"When it comes to nutrition, the best first food for babies
is breast milk."
US Food and Drug Administration
"The benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh potential
US Environmental Protection Agency
(Dioxin Reassessment Briefing)