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Kids Health QA: Safe Breast Milk

Q. I've heard there can be toxins in my breast milk! Should I switch to formula?

No need. It's hard to escape environmental toxins these days. There are chemicals in our water, in our foods, in our homes, in some of the plastic containers that hold our food and drink. And, yes, when we're exposed to chemicals, they can get into our bloodstream and then into our breast milk. It's certainly a cause for concern.

But while research about the effects of toxins on breastfed babies is ongoing, so far there's been no evidence that they do serious harm when passed on through breast milk. Meanwhile, study after study has shown the benefits of breastfeeding for babies. Breast milk is naturally designed to be easily digestible, strengthens a baby's immune system and general health, and stimulates brain development. (Nursing has upsides for you, too, including more weight loss post-pregnancy and a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers; plus, that skin-to-skin time with the baby is great for bonding.)

Bottom line: There's no reason for you to stop breastfeeding. When you weigh the risks and benefits of breast milk and formula, breast milk wins, hands down.

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