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Breastfed Babies Are More Exposed To Toxic Chemicals

Breastfed Babies Are More Exposed To Toxic Chemicals

A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health has found that the industrial chemicals are passed on to infants through breast milk. These chemicals are also linked to issues with immune function and cancer.

Parents have worried about what they pass on to their children for many years. However, this is the first study to measure exactly how many toxins an infant is exposed through breast milk. These toxic chemicals are known as perfluorinated alkylate substances or PFASs. Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that “We knew that small amounts of PFAS can occur in breast milk, but our serial blood analyses now show a buildup in the infants, the longer they are breastfed.”

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What are PFAS?

PFAS are chemicals that are used in industrial and consumer products. Using PFAS ensures that a products resist water, grease or stain damage. They can be found in many common products. These products include food packaging, waterproof clothing and stain-proof items.

PFAS have been common for around 60 years. It usually occurs as a compound and it is hard for the body to get rid of. This is why it is easy to pass on PFAS through breast milk. PFAS are often found in the blood of humans who struggle with immune system dysfunction and endocrine disruption. It is also associated with reproductive toxicity.

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How many PFAS are passed on through breast milk?

Scientists have known for several years that small dosages of PFAS and other toxins may be found in breast milk. Researchers found that the amount of PFAS concentrations in a child’s blood would increase by somewhere between 20% and 30% each month that they were breastfed. In this study, the figure applies to children who received all of their nutrition exclusively from breast milk.

However, after breastfeeding was stopped, the number of toxins decreased in the children’s blood. This result led the scientists to conclude that babies were at risk of ingesting PFAS directly through their mother’s breast milk.

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Does this mean breastfeeding is bad for children?

The researchers do not suggest that this is a reason to avoid breastfeeding. There is cause for concern about the number of PFAS in the subjects’ blood. However, there has not yet been any negative effects linked to these chemicals in babies. Moreover, the researchers found that their negative impact can be mitigated if mothers undertook healthy activities with their newborns, such as yoga for swimmers.

Two PFASs have already been limited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have been noted to disrupt a person’s hormones.  Both compounds have also been tentatively linked to cancer. As a result, the EPA has limited the amount of both PFOS and PFOA that can be found in drinking water. These provisions also protect small children from the more serious effects that are though to come from PFAS.

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Breast milk is still full of essential nutrition for babies

The amount of PFASs in the blood of breastfeeding babies does not negate the essential nutrition that breastmilk provides to babies. A mother’s milk is still perfectly adapted for the nutrition babies requires for healthy growth. Breast milk provides antibodies to babies. These antibodies help babies fight ear infections and gastro-intestinal problems.

At the end of the day, breastfeeding remains the recommended method of feeding by the CDC, the World Health organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although this study suggests that there may be implications of the PFAS on breast milk, these implications require further study before a new recommendation can be issued.

Featured photo credit: Stefan Malmesjö via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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