According to a recent research, breastfeeding moms should choose an organic diet to avoid the pesticide residue that may contaminate their breast milk. Mothers’ milk, the basic and vital nutrition for an infant until the first few months after delivery, may not be safe anymore if the government doesn’t take timely measures to control the excess use of harmful pesticides and insecticides.
Research conducted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Sciences at Chaudhary Devi Lal University in Sirsa, India discovered 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, a figure about hundred times the estimates of the World Health Organization. During the study conducted in the course of three years, 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.
In a statement for The Daily Mail Today, Dr Rani Devi, head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Sciences at Chaudhary Devi Lal University, explained: “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.”
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.