Breastfeeding is said to promote a baby’s health, however, a new study discovered that industrial chemicals may expose breastfed babies to health risks. These chemicals go by the name perfluorinated alkylate substances (PFAS) and they are found in small concentrations in breast milk.
The PFAS are chemical elements that are used to make products resistant to grease, stains and water. The are used in products like clothes, lubricants and food packages.
Moreover, these particular chemicals are known to contaminate potable water in the US, especially near facilities where these substances are produced.
The study shows that in breastfed children, PFAS levels were recorded between 20 and 30 percent each month. Once breastfeeding ceased, PFAS levels decreased. The scientific study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
After the researchers analyzed 5 PFAS samples, they discovered that one of them – perfluorohexanesulfonate – did not increase in concentration during breastfeeding the infants.
Furthermore, the mentioned findings were thoroughly analyzed via blood samples from mother-child pairs. 81 children from the Faroe Islands had their blood samples analyzed, whereas mothers’ blood samples were collected in their 32nd week of pregnancy. It seems that the PFASs come from sea food in these islands.
The study’s co-author, professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Philippe Grandjean, explained that these toxic chemicals accumulate and persist in the body for a long time.
He also stated that new mothers in North America display levels of PFASs in their breast milk similar to those of mothers in the Faroe Islands.
Moreover, the babies from Faroe Islands displayed immune system impairment, as vaccines would not have the desired effect on them.
An alarming signal, said the researchers, was that PFASs, which gather in the circulatory system of both humans and animals, might lead to a weakened immune system, reproductive abnormalities, improper functioning of endocrine glands and even cancer.
Grandjean and his team found out that these toxic, industrial chemicals were identified in decreased amounts in breast milk, which could damage the infant’s health.
The idea was that, according to Grandjean, breastfeeding should not necessarily be discouraged, but their concern was that children might be exposed to such chemicals from a very early age.
Photo Credits breastfeedingexperience.com