Discoveries in the breast milk// babies are at risk if care is not taken

in StemSocial6 months ago


I learned that toxins may be transferred to infants through breast milk from a short tale I read lately. The writer claimed in her letter that she breastfed her two children for the first year of their lives until she learned about the dangers of pollution and decided to take a test for persistent toxic chemicals, which revealed the presence in her body of pesticides that were outlawed more than 40 years ago.

Modern science has established that several chemical pollutants, even at low concentrations, may be transferred from a woman to her infant through breast milk. There is no way to know for sure that formula milk is devoid of any additional chemicals since these products are likewise vulnerable to contamination with poisonous chemicals or possibly hazardous germs, the likes of which have caused widespread media attention and recalls of food products in recent years.

My curiosity was piqued as to the whole spectrum of components included in the first foods kids eat, from the healthiest to the most questionable or even potentially harmful. What can we do, knowing what we understand about the risks, to make the best possible choices for infants, whether they are breastfed or given formula?

Here is my finding concerning this matter

Before starting a baby off on solids, breast milk is generally recommended (the World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life). To a lesser extent, it also contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and hormones in addition to the water, fat, and protein from which it is mostly composed. It can fight infections and is loaded with protective maternal antibodies. Breast milk is an active, changing meal; for example, it has more fat in the afternoon and evening than it does in the morning. During a meal, it also shifts. Foremilk, the initial milk produced when a newborn latch on, is rich in lactose and hence easily digested and satisfies the infant's thirst. The so-called "hindmilk," which comes next, is richer and more satiating because of its higher fat content. While the quality of baby formula has improved greatly, it still struggles to duplicate the dynamic nature of breast milk.

Mary Fewtrell, a professor of paediatric nutrition at University College London, and author of a peer-reviewed study on lactation says, "Human milk varies throughout lactation, over a day, from the start to the end of the feed, and some extent on maternal factors such as her diet." With all that in mind, it's hard to pinpoint exactly how much of each ingredient should be included in age-independent infant formula.


Many of breast milk's special qualities come from substances other than the nutrients found in it, and Fewtrell calls attention to these hormones, cells (including stem cells), and microRNAs. Breastfeeding is frequently called "personalised nutrition" because of the knowledge the mother may impart to the newborn about her own experiences and surroundings. "We still don't completely grasp the role of all these components but... very certainly they allow the mother to transfer information to the infant about her own experiences and the environment."

While more than 80% of newborns are breastfed, the CDC reports that by six months, just 58% of infants are still being fed exclusively by their mothers. To boost that number, health officials have implemented initiatives including expanding breastfeeding resources for new moms. Helpful measures also include identifying and addressing disorders like tongue-tie in infants. For the time being, however, parents who do choose to use formula may be interested in learning more about it, especially what may be done to make it better.

Although breast milk is the biological norm for human newborns and offers advantages to both the mother and the child, Fewtrell notes that some women may be unable to breastfeed, while others may choose not to, and still others may opt to breastfeed just in part. "Infant formula, which is intended to satisfy the nutritional needs of newborns and support normal growth and development, is the only safe option for young infants if they are not breastfed (or not breastfed)." She emphasizes that parents should be open to adjusting their infants' diets to meet their individual needs since there is no "one size fits all" solution.

What makes a Better Infant Formula

These past few decades have seen significant advancements in the production of baby formula. As recently as the turn of the 20th century, bottle feeding was still considered risky. Babies who were bottle-fed in orphanages during the early 1900s had a high mortality rate; many died from diseases spread by the use of dirty bottles or from malnutrition. In 1865, cows' milk, wheat flour, malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate were the only components used in commercially made newborn formula. Since then, the formula's nutritional composition has undergone significant refinement.

Components of the present infants' formula

Fatty acids, vegetable oils like palm, sunflower, or rapeseed, and sometimes even cow's or goat's milk (typically skimmed, which isn't as fatty as breast milk) are all common ingredients in infant formula. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid, is currently required in all newborn formulas sold in the European Union because of the crucial function it plays in the brain and nervous system development.

Lactose is the primary sugar in breast milk. To make infant formula, this is blended into dry powdered milk made from skimmed milk. A carbohydrate called maltodextrin is also added, which can come from either corn or potatoes. Glucose (a kind of sugar) isn't typically added in the UK, although glucose sugars such as corn syrup are more frequently utilized in the US. There is a possibility that this will cause more cavities in infants' teeth when they finally emerge.

Colostrum (the first milk the mother makes after giving birth) has larger quantities of lactoferrin than later milk does, and whey and casein are the two main proteins in breast milk (though their relative amounts shift as the infant develops). Cows' and goats' milk-based formulas, which have greater casein to whey ratio than human milk, have different amounts and compositions of protein. The soy protein used in vegan alternatives is a good example. Vitamins (A, D, B, and K) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and a host of trace elements) are also included in the formula.
Toxic compounds, like contaminants, can also find their way into the newborn formula, making it a double whammy.

Concerns regarding the presence of heavy metals in the formula
Nearly 80% of 86 samples of baby formula tested positive for arseni in 2017 according to the Clean Label Project, a non-profit organization in the United States that evaluates products for harmful compounds including pesticides and heavy metals. Soy-based solutions were also found to have seven times more cadmium, a hazardous element commonly found in batteries.

After another year and a half, scientists from the University of Miami's Department of Neurology and the Clean Label Project conducted a study in which they analyzed the levels of heavy metals present in 91 different baby formulae. They discovered that 22% of the samples of baby formula tested had levels of lead and cadmium over the legal limit set by the state of California. Further research is needed to understand the long-term health impacts of this chronic daily low-level heavy metal exposure in newborns, the study's authors write because "low-level heavy metal contamination is prevalent" in baby meals and formulae. Despite being above the weekly acceptable limits recommended by the WHO and FAO, Swedish research of baby foods revealed that children given infant formula had dietary cadmium exposure that was up to 12 times greater than that of children who are breastfed.

The study's other author is an environmental scientist and Clean Label Project director Jackie Bowen. She advocates for more openness on the hidden pollutants that make it into our food supply. Bowen claims that these toxins can slip through the cracks in food safety regulation because of the emphasis placed on microbiological infections like E. coli that cause rapid, but temporary, illness.

However, those in charge of ensuring the safety of the food supply believe they are making strides to address the problem of heavy metals in infant meals. The US FDA, for instance, claims to regularly check infant meals for potentially harmful ingredients and to take corrective action if necessary. It claims to be collaborating with the food industry and other interested parties to minimize the presence of harmful chemicals in infant formula and other baby meals.

In addition to sampling and enforcement, the FDA claims it is still issuing guidelines to the industry that will assist lead to "significant and enduring reductions in exposure to hazardous components from foods."

According to Bowen, "consumers are increasingly concerned about how the foods they eat are linked to long-term chronic diseases like cancer or infertility that can take decades to manifest," and he goes on to say that in the United States, this food safety regulation is "silent" when it comes to heavy metal contamination. The definition of "safe food" differs between the legal system and the population at large.

The Earth's crust contains trace amounts of heavy metals like cadmium and lead, making complete eradication an impossibility. Bowen contends that heavy metal contamination in the environment is made worse by human activities including mining, fracking, industrial agriculture, and the use of wastewater for irrigation. She explains that unlike microorganisms, which can be killed with heat or other techniques, such pollutants cannot be removed from a product once they have been introduced. Instead, the issue must be tackled head-on by starting with pristine, uncontaminated soil. Since many of the essential components of infant formula come from either dairy animals or crops, farming is where it all begins.

"The same principle applies to ingredients; if you want a high-quality final product, start with a high-quality ingredient. That's the result of not only not allowing the same degree of pollution that exacerbated the problem, but also of solid environmental policies "Bowen, explaining the potential for heavy metal contamination in some formula components, makes the following statement. While soy and hemp, two popular plant-based alternatives to cows' milk, are known to bioaccumulate heavy metals, pea protein does not.

Contaminants in the formula that aren't visible to the naked eye are only part of the problem. Infant milk is made by combining a powdered formula with regular tap water. That's dangerous for people's health in places like Flint, Michigan, where lead from corroded pipes has leached into the water supply (lead exposure can also affect breastfeeding mothers). While lead pipes are being phased out, Bowen notes that testing for water quality often focuses on microorganisms rather than high amounts of heavy metals.

"It's one thing to address the problem for infant formula, but until you tackle heavy metal pollution of the drinking water that gets mixed with powdered milk to give baby, you're only fixing half of the problem," she adds. The question is, "What are we doing to avoid these problems from occurring?"

One potential move in the direction of cleaner food is the US Food and Drug Administration's Closer to Zero action plan, which intends to lessen the amount of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury found in meals consumed by infants and toddlers.

Concerns about the environment have been amplified by the fact that the cultivation of common formula components like palm and soy sometimes necessitates the loss of precious natural habitat. Using organic formula components that are sourced as locally as possible is the answer for some. Australia-based formula manufacturer Bubs, for instance, claims that by purchasing milk from nearby goat and cow farms, they can guarantee the authenticity of all of their components.

Is it possible that formula mimicking breast milk might promote microbiota in the gut?

An increasing number of people in recent years have begun to recognize the significance of the human microbiome, the community of microbes that live in and on our bodies. Although the formula is nutritionally closer to breast milk than ever before, a paediatric dietitian who specializes in newborn nutrition and allergies at City Dietitians in London, Emily Bloxam, says that breast milk is "a major driver" for the formation of the baby's gut microbiota. It is not yet possible to chemically reproduce the components in breast milk that aid in this development, such as maternal antibodies and good gut microbes.

Bloxam believes that bifidobacteria, a major probiotic (friendly bacteria) contained in breastfeeding, helps an infant's immune system develop normally and reduces his or her chance of developing asthma, eczema, and gastrointestinal issues in the first year of life. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are prebiotics found in breast milk; they provide Bifidobacteria with a food source, promoting their development.

Studies have shown that breast milk contains about 150 different HMOs. Infants who are breastfed have been discovered to have different gut microbiomes than newborns who are fed formula.

Some hypoallergenic formulas now have prebiotic and probiotic additives that mimic the gut microbiota of breastfed infants to help infants who are allergic to milk thrive. If a mother has to undergo a C-section and her baby doesn't get any of her gut bacteria, a new probiotic Bifidobacteria supplement can be added to the baby's formula or breast milk to make up for that. It's also possible that some HMOs included in infant formula have been chemically modified specifically for this purpose.

Breast milk has many unique qualities, but the formula doesn't have one: the flexibility to modify and adapt on the go. According to Bloxam, breast milk is in a dynamic, ever-changing state: "Several factors, including genetics, geography, lactation stage, and food, affect the levels and content of these beneficial chemicals in women. Breast milk composition changes daily, even within the same mother, to fulfil the demands of her baby."

Can artificially produce milk adequately replace breast milk?

Growing breast-milk-producing cells in the lab are something scientists are looking at as a possible approach to mimic some of those qualities.

Leila Strickland, a cell scientist, founded the North Carolina-based company BioMilq after experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding her first child. Her group isolates cells from her mammary glands and milk and then cultivates them on Petri dishes. When human breast cells are given a nutritional supplement cocktail and placed in a bioreactor, they begin secreting milk components similar to those present in real human milk. However, it will be at least a few years before BioMilq is available to the public. Furthermore, even if milk could be produced in a laboratory, it still wouldn't be as adaptable to a baby's specific demands as a mother's milk.

Several other biotech firms are also engaged in research that, if successful, might revolutionize the way we see the commercially produced baby formula. Cow, sheep, goat, camel, and now human cells are being cultured at Turtle Tree Labs in Singapore to produce milk components. Functional human milk proteins, which might be added to infant formula and other food products, are being produced in New York by researchers at Helaina utilizing fermentation procedures that control yeast cells.

Moreover, Fewtrell, the professor of paediatric nutrition at University College London, notes that breast milk is a dynamic fluid, making it somewhat of a shifting target, with certain components still not entirely understood.

We can make formulas that are healthy and nutritious enough to ensure normal growth and development, she explains. "Indeed, formulas have evolved over the years to more precisely mimic the development patterns and certain outcomes of breastfed newborns. But I don't think it's feasible to recreate the "non-nutrient" components of this intricate liquid.

While considering a child's diet, we must take into account not just the mother's diet during nursing, but also the child's diet as he or she begins to wean. In homes where it is utilized, the formula might be a piece of that puzzle.

The subject is more complex than merely how to ensure that children have access to healthy food when it comes to hazardous substances, some of which may end up in breast milk or infant formula. In addition, it involves figuring out how to make the world a better place to live for them and future generations by decreasing pollution across the entire food chain. I would say that reducing the use of dangerous chemicals from the outset is one solution to be considered.

That brings us to the conclusion. I want to express my gratitude to you for taking the time to read this post, and I pray that God will richly reward you.



• Jenny Leach. “Toxins in Breastmilk - BabyCentre UK.” BabyCentre UK, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

• Turns, Anna. “The Surprising Science of Breast Milk.” The Surprising Science of Breast Milk - BBC Future, 23 June 2022,

• “Human Milk Is Healthiest, Even With Toxins | Baby Gooroo.” Human Milk Is Healthiest, Even With Toxins | Baby Gooroo, 31 Mar. 2021,

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I was thinking as I read this of the aggressive campaigns milk formula producers often conduct. This is true although WHO recommends breast feeding until at least six months. In certain areas, where access to clean water is not assured, formula may actually present a risk to infant's health.

The information in your blog is always timely and important. Thank you!

Yeah. You're right about that. Having access to no clean water can enhance the poor quality of formula. Thanks for your contribution and time

Interesting theme @jsalvage,I think that breast milk is more than necessary in the development of children, that during the first 6 months is essential, and there is nothing better than it can replace it.
The Formulas prepared by companies and that enjoy a large amount of publicity, I consider to be more harmful than beneficial, they only benefit the pockets of the owners of the companies.
Breastfeeding is not only the transfer of nutrients to the baby, but it is a way of communicating between mother and baby, creating an even stronger bond.

I'm glad to have you here. Yes, it has been proved scientifically that breastfeeding create a kind of bond between the mother and her baby. Thank you for stopping by

I think one of the ways in which breastfeeding mothers can reduce toxic chemicals to babies may include always checking their health status, taking proper treatment of their health, and many others.

Indeed, regular checkups will help definitely in preventing the spread of the chemical from breastfeeding. We hope health workers will keep educating women on this matter.
Thank you for your time.

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