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Toxins in breastmilk - Part 1

Breastmilk is the best food for your baby during her first six months and beyond. It gives her everything she needs to thrive, and it's a wonderful way for you to feel close to each other. Even though breastmilk can contain traces of toxins, these traces won't harm your baby.


What are toxins?
Toxins are poisonous chemicals in the environment. That may sound worrying, but in fact, the toxins we encounter in every-day life are at such low levels they are unlikely to affect our health in the long-term. Toxins exist in our food, in every-day products such as cosmetics and certain plastics, and surround us in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The most common toxins we are exposed to are dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Both of these toxins are persistent organic pollutants, which means they don't break down. They can survive in the environment for many years, and the tiny amounts we absorb can build up in our body fat.
How can toxins get into my breastmilk?
The tiny levels of toxins in your body fat can pass into the fat in your breastmilk.
Can toxins harm me?
Be assured that the toxins in your body won't put your health at risk. You would have to be exposed to extremely high levels of toxins, such as through an industrial accident, for them to cause you any harm.
Will the toxins in my breastmilk harm my baby?
Your breastmilk only contains traces of toxins, so it is very unlikely that the toxins in your breastmilk will harm your baby. Your baby was also exposed to toxins while she was in your uterus (womb), but again, only at very low levels.

There has been some research on whether or not toxins can affect babies' brain development. However, these studies couldn't find any conclusive evidence to prove that toxins affect babies' brains.

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