When a woman is exposed to environmental chemicals, some of these chemicals may build up in her body over time. This is especially true for chemicals that are lipophilic – meaning they bind to fat cells in the body. During lactation, the woman's body calls on these fat cells to be used in breast milk production and these chemicals can then be passed to her infant through breastfeeding.
The good news is that we have come a long way in reducing these chemicals in the environment and also in breast milk. Breastfeeding is still considered the best food for infants and should be encouraged. Below are resources that describe the issue, provide suggestions on how to reduce exposures, and explain how to get involved in advocating for stronger government regulations so women don’t have to worry that there may be environmental chemicals in their breast milk.
Journal Article: Contaminants in Human Milk
Journal Article: PBDEs in Human Milk