‘Serious Dose’ of Pesticide Residue Found in Breast Milk, Study Finds

A "Serious Dose" of Pesticide Residue Found in Breast Milk, Study Finds

Breastfeeding moms are well aware of the importance of their diet choices. Eating a diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, and healthy protein is important because what you eat is likely to make its way to your little bundle of joy via your breast milk. New research now shows that when possible, breastfeeding moms should choose an organic diet to avoid the pesticide residue that may contaminate their breast milk.

Research from the Department of Energy and Environmental Sciences at Chaudhary Devi Lal University in Sirsa found pesticide residue in human breast milk. In fact, researchers found that breast milk contains a “serious dose” of pesticide residue, about .12 mg per kg or 100 times World Health Organization estimates. Researchers collected samples from 40 women and 80 children between 8 months and 2 years of age and found that the pesticide residue was magnified by 10 times in babies after they were breastfed, according to an article in The Daily Mail.

“Pesticides are reaching inside the human body by way of biomagnification. The fodder being given to milch animals is infected and contains residues of pesticides. The residues infect the animal’s milk, which enters the human body by way of consumption. Accumulation of fat-soluble chemicals in the mother’s body produces milk laced with pesticides, which is later magnified ten times when the infant is fed,” Dr Rani Devi, head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Sciences at Chaudhary Devi Lal University, told The Daily Mail Today.

Another study at Berkeley’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health also found pesticide residue in breast milk. Researchers said that while in rural populations, pesticide contamination could be due to direct exposure to farmlands, in urban populations like in the Berkeley study, they almost had to come from diet.

According to the article:

“One of the motivations for conducting this investigation was to understand the exposures of neonates so that we could develop better informed epidemiological studies of the health effects,” says [lead author Rosana Hernandez] Weldon. Recently, her co-authors from the CHAMACOS study have found associations between organophosphate pesticides and neurodevelopment. Others have shown that persistent pesticides and PCBs are potential endocrine disruptors.

Researchers still said that while the benefits of breastfeeding including nutrition and mother/baby bonding still outweigh the risks in this study, breastfeeding moms should be aware of their exposure to pesticide residue. In cases where one cannot afford organic foods, make sure to wash off produce. This research shines a light on the persistence of pesticides in our environment and in our bodies. While avoiding all exposure can be difficult, it’s definitely worth taking a long, hard look at your exposure and reducing your risks where possible.

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Image of women breast feeding an infant baby from Shuttershock