We all know that toxins are found in breast milk; however, the general thought is the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risk of contamination. A political science professor at the University of Guelph disagrees. Speaking at the Pharmaceuticals in the Environment conference, Professor Judith McKenzie presented that “many doctors now are rethinking whether to recommend breastfeeding, because of the dangers of dioxins being passed from mother to infant through breast milk,” according to the GuelphMercury.com.
Has breast milk really gotten so toxic that formula is better for babies? Social science professor Dr. Lynn Frewer of Wageningen University disagrees with McKenzie. GuelphMercury.com explains the debate that was sparked at the conference:
“The message is not that women should not breastfeed, because that is very important,” Frewer said, suggesting the real challenge is removing dioxins from the environment so they do not get into mothers’ bodies in the first place.
After her presentation, McKenzie said society is hesitant to address the issue of contaminated breast milk related to environmental pollutants “because it’s still seen as a women’s issue. Maybe we should be reframing it as a child health issue rather than a women’s issue.”
I agree with Dr. Frewer that rather than scare women away from breastfeeding, we need to look closely at removing toxins from our environment. I have never heard of a case where a child was actually harmed by the chemicals found in human milk, but research has proven that infant formula contaminated with perchlorate harms brain development.