Breastfeeding benefits outweigh toxic risk

Dec. 17, 2008 at 2:31 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The beneficial effects of breastfeeding are greater than the potential risks linked to infant exposure to chemicals such as dioxins, U.S. researchers said.

Study authors Judy LaKind of LaKind Associates, of Catonsville, Md.; Dr. Cheston Berlin Jr.of The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania and Capt. Donald Mattison of the National Institutes of Health advise healthcare providers to continue to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies.

The study findings, published in Breastfeeding Medicine, based on epidemiologic data, do not downplay the adverse effects of exposure to dioxins and other environmental toxins. However, the study authors distinguish between the statistical significance of risk/benefit assessments in an individual compared to population effects.

"When breast milk was chosen by regulatory agencies as a handy medium for measuring environmental toxins, the public became alarmed that breast milk was contaminated," Dr. Ruth A. Lawrence of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and editor in chief of Breastfeeding Medicine said in a statement. "The authors, eminent authorities on the subject, have put these fears to rest."

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