We're being forced to a debate that we shouldn't need to have; rather to breastfeed or not. There is an undeniable advantage to infant health that comes with breastfeeding. This benefit, however, now must be weighed against environmental pollutants that accumulate in mother's milk. As an example, breastfed children now have significantly higher levels of PCB's than non-breastfed children.
Currently, we know that breastfed babies are healthier as a group than non-breastfed babies. As we continue to pollute ourselves with man-made toxins, there is concern that we may may (sadly) reach a tipping point where it is actually bad for children to breastfeed!
What can you do? Read the following from the paper:
"...many of the environmental chemicals commonly measured in human milk come from the mother's diet. For example, he says, up to 90% of human exposure to the persistent and lipid-soluble dioxin-like chemicals, including certain PCBs, PCDDs, and PCDFs, is attributed to dietary intake. These chemicals are found at higher concentrations in fatty foods such as red meat, dairy products, and fish. Some of the highest levels of contaminants are seen among women in remote northern areas, such as the Canadian Inuit, who eat a diet rich in seal, whale, and other fatty marine species high on the food chain. Meat eaters in general tend to harbor more POPs than people eating predominantly vegetarian diets."
This is yet another reason to consume organic foods, and to eat mainly a vegetarian diet. If you eat meat be sure that it is grass-fed free range. Organic foods are much lower in pollutants (read more in my paper on the subject here) as are grass-fed meats and dairy (read more on that here). If we support these types of foods by purchasing them and avoiding commercial food we can not only improve the health of our children and ourselves, we can put financial pressure on industry to farm the way that we demand, organic!
Read the paper here.