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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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