It is indeed an alarming thought that the primary source of a newborn's nutrition can cause a potential threat to your baby's health. New study reveals all 50 samples of US's breastfeeding moms tested positive for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), groups of about 9,000 compounds that have been used for manufacturing in various industries, considered man-made. Levels found was reported to have reached 2,000 times higher than what some public health advocates recommend is safe for drinking water.
PFAS are also referred to as 'forever chemicals' because its substance comes from manufactured materials such as plastics, clothing, or commercial household products.
They do not naturally break down in the environment and accumulates in the human body. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were the most abundant PFAS in these samples.
When findings revealed evidence of PFAS in 50 out of 50 women samples, authors of the study said this causes for concern and threat for the baby's health. Though the sample size is relatively small, they were distributed according to socioeconomic and geographic groupings, which made it difficult to address the issue on an individual level.
PFAS Grave Effects
Toxic-Free Future science director and study co-author Erika Schreder said that PFAS contamination of breast milk is likely universal in the US and have been linked to developing cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, decreased sperm count, and other serious health failures.
Co-author of the study and pediatrician Sheela Sathyanarayana added that while it was a limitation for them to thoroughly analyze the effects on newborns, studies of older children traced back hormonal disruptions to the chemicals and suggests PFAS harm the immune system. This is mostly sad news for infants who needs breast milk more than anything to build up their immune system.
Study shows PFAS concentration in breast milks ranged from 50 parts per trillion (ppt) to 1,850 ppt. Although the FDA has no safety standards for PFAS in breast milk, the count is way higher compared to standards of 1 ppt by Environmental Working Group for drinking waters and Department of Health and Human Services' 14ppt in children's drinking water.
Schreder explained that states and retailers should conduct broader phaseouts of consumer products containing PFAS as it is not natural to have these chemicals in breast milks. Moms have already done more than enough protecting their babies in their most crucial stage of development, but having big corporations prevent using chemicals that contaminate breast milks and switch to safer ones is beyond their control.
PFAS data over the last decade showed that while the levels of the phased-out PFOS and PFOA have been declining, the detection frequencies of current-use PFAS are still building up on people. Dr. Amina Salamova, study co-author and associate research scientist stressed out the need to address the entire class of PFAS chemicals, not just legacy-use variations.
Study suggests what mothers can do at this time is to reduce use of commercial products that uses PFAS and boycott entire chemical class, even industries who claims their PFAS do not accumulate as much in human.
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