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Loyola Lactation Consultant Reacts to Report on Toxins in Breast Milk

Nurse maintains that breast milk is still best for baby

MAYWOOD, Ill.  -- When writer Florence Williams was nursing her second child, she had her breast milk analyzed for toxins. What she found surprised her.

Trace amounts of pesticides, dioxin, a jet-fuel ingredient and high-to-average levels of flame retardants were present in her breast milk. She reported on these findings in New York Times Magazine, which has since set off a wave of controversy. A Loyola University Health System lactation consultant puts these findings in perspective.

“All human bodies contain toxins. This includes infants, regardless of what they are fed,” said Pam Allyn, RN, BSN, LCCE, IBCLC, lactation consultant. “The question is, which has greater risk and fewer advantages – breast milk or formula? Breast milk is still best for babies for its numerous protective benefits."

Allyn reports that risks of formula feeding infants include an increased incidence of SIDS, hospitalization for lower-respiratory tract infections, childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, leukemia and asthma. Not breastfeeding also increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for mothers.

The World Health Organization states that the advantages of breastfeeding far outweigh the potential risks from environmental pollutants. The American Academy of Pediatricians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association also continue to recommend breastfeeding infants for at least 12 months.

“While the author expresses concern for what she found in her breast milk, she also concedes that while breast milk is food, it also is medicine,” Allyn said. “Breast milk is known to contain nutrients that cannot be duplicated by any laboratory formula, and these nutrients make children more resistant to disease and infection. That is a key point that mothers should keep in mind when they are determining if they are going to breastfeed their baby.”

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Media Relations

Nora Plunkett
Media Relations
(708) 216-6268
nplunkett@lumc.edu
Anne Dillon
Media Relations
(708) 216-8232
adillon@lumc.edu