Dioxin and Breast Milk

"Breast milk has all of the mother’s immune defenses in it
It’s 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 world’s 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., Ph.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 risks."

US Environmental Protection Agency
(Dioxin Reassessment Briefing)

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