UCB Parents Advice about Breastfeeding

Dioxin in Breast Milk

Advice and recommendations from the UCB Parents mailing list. This page is brought to you by UC Berkeley Parents Network

Back to: Advice about Breastfeeding


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
UCB Parents Home Page UCB Parents Recommendations UCB Parents Advice

The opinions and statements expressed on this page are those of parents who belong to the UC Berkeley Parents Network and should not be taken as a position of or endorsement by the University of California, Berkeley.