Dioxin in Breastmilk?

Archived Q&A and Reviews

I'm reading The Irreducible Needs of Children by T. Berry Brazelton and another pediatrician, and I just learned last night from this book that American women have dioxin in their breast milk at three times the allowable level. The book said our milk could not be sold because of the level of dioxin. Does anyone out there know more about this? I (and Brazelton too) consider this very serious. And since I'm still nursing my 2 and 1/2 year old, and am newly pregnant, I wonder if there is a place where I could have my breast milk tested for dioxin. I'd like to know if I'm below, at average, or God forbid, above average, which wouldn't surprise me as I've lived in the Bay Area all my life. Any information is appreciated. Christy

There are several things you can do to reduce the amount of dioxin: 1) reduce your intake of beef and pork, they contain the largest concentrations of dioxin of all food sources (high on the food chain). chicken doesn't contain as much so you don't have to be a complete vegetarian. 2) do not eat ocean or freshwater fish. 3) drink skim milk. dioxin is carried in fat. (studies have show that contamnation amount non-dairy vegetarians is much lower). cows ingest dioxin through contaminated grass and grains. 4) dioxin can be passed to the baby through the placenta so several years of a low-fat diet before conceiving before having a baby is a good idea (something i could do before my first, but unfortunately not my second :( ) most of what i read on the subject is that the amounts in breastmilk is small, but stored dioxins ARE released to the child to some degree. obviously a woman eating fish from a contaminated river is going to pass more on to her child and those who follow some sort of a vegetarian diet tend not to contain much of this compound in their system (and yes you CAN get enough protein). 5) Don't burn trash or buy plastics that contain chlorine. (perhaps someone can pipe in on how we can learn more about this type of plastic) 6) Join a local environmental organization, it appears that the next few political years the environment is going to need a lot of grassroots help: http://www.volunteermatch.org/scorecard/ carrie

Seems to me someone asked about toxic chemicals and breastfeeding and I recently came across this site and a new report.

One can order or read parts of their new report on the effects of toxic chemicals on children: In Harm's Way.

The Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility http://www.igc.org/psr/index.htm

What About Breastfeeding---article with extensive bibleography http://www.igc.org/psr/breastfeeding.htm

Sherry Reinhardt, RN,MPH,MOM

Yesterday, I took my breastfed 6 m.o. to her pediatrician and discussed the dioxin-in-breastmilk issue with her. She supported me in minimizing my intake of animal fats to decrease the dioxins. In addition, she encouraged me to stop eating tuna (canned and fresh), swordfish, and shark because of the high levels of mercury which can also get into breastmilk and, to make up for not eating fish, she recommending taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements. I'm okay without swordfish or shark, but foregoing fresh tuna seems really tough. Does anybody know of a mercury free tuna supply? Thanks. Ilana