A new study co-authored by experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that breastfeeding may expose babies to a widely used class of industrial chemicals. The chemical Perfluorinated alkylate substances (PFASs) found in small amount in mothers’ milk is linked with cancer and can interfere with babies’ immunity.
Researchers for the experiment examined 81 children born in Faroe Islands between 1997-2000 by looking at five types of PFASs in their blood during birth and ages 11 months, 18 months and 5 years. Moreover women in their 32nd week of pregnancy were also examined for PFAS level. The study found that PFASs built up in infants by 20-30% for each month they were breastfed. In some cases, PFASs levels in children exceeded than that of their mothers. However, after breastfeeding was stopped, concentration of all five types of PFAS declined.
PFASs which are known to contaminate drinking water are used in stain proof textiles, waterproof clothing, food packaging, paints and lubricants. They are also used to manufacture products resistant to water, grease and stains.