Comment on "breast milk: an optimal food".In their editorial "Breast Milk: An Optimal Food," Pronczuk et al. (2004) stated that "in most cases, mothers can and should be reassured that breast milk is by far the best food to give to their babies," despite the evidence that "a myriad of potential chemical contaminants ... can be detected in breast milk," mainly because a) levels of environmental contaminants, as determined by subsequent surveys, continue to decrease; b) exposure through breast milk may be less important than exposure in utero in utero (in u´ter-o) [L.] within the uterus.
In the uterus.
in utero adv. ; and c) there is little evidence that exposure through breast milk is associated with damage.
We believe that there is probably a fourth good reason in support of their recommendation. There is in fact some evidence that breast-feeding breast-feeding /breast-feed·ing/ (brest´fed?ing) nursing; the feeding of an infant at the mother's breast. may counteract some of the negative effects of exposure to environmental contaminants in utero.
For example, Boersma and Lanting (2000) showed that at 6 years of age cognitive development is affected by prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls polychlorinated biphenyls, (pol´ēklôr´nā´tid bīfē´n (PCBs) and dioxins. Breast-fed breast·feed or breast-feed
v. breast-fed , breast-feed·ing, breast-feeds
To feed (a baby) mother's milk from the breast; suckle.
To breastfeed a baby. children, however, when compared to formula-fed children, had an advantage in terms of quality of movements, fluency, and cognitive development tests at 18 and 42 months of age and at 6 years of age, despite a higher PCB PCB: see polychlorinated biphenyl.
in full polychlorinated biphenyl
Any of a class of highly stable organic compounds prepared by the reaction of chlorine with biphenyl, a two-ring compound. exposure from breast milk.
Ribas-Fito et al. (2003), studying a birth cohort of 92 mother-infant pairs highly exposed to organochlorine or·gan·o·chlo·rine
Any of various hydrocarbon pesticides, such as DDT, that contain chlorine. compounds, found that prenatal exposure was associated with a delay in mental and psychomotor development Noun 1. psychomotor development - progressive acquisition of skills involving both mental and motor activities
growing, growth, ontogenesis, ontogeny, maturation, development - (biology) the process of an individual organism growing organically; a purely biological at 13 months of age and that long-term breast-feeding counterbalanced this damage because it was associated with better performance on both the mental and motor scales compared to short-term or no breast-feeding.
Vreugdenhil et al. (2004) found that children who were breast-fed for at least 16 weeks did not show the delays in development of the central nervous system that are present in children breast-fed for 6-16 weeks or formula-fed, despite a similar prenatal exposure to PCBs.
This evidence is not conclusive (scientific evidence rarely is), but we believe that it should not be omitted in an article on environmental contaminants and breastfeeding.
Editor's note Editor's Note (foaled in 1993 in Kentucky) is an American thoroughbred Stallion racehorse. He was sired by 1992 U.S. Champion 2 YO Colt Forty Niner, who in turn was a son of Champion sire Mr. Prospector and out of the mare, Beware Of The Cat.
Trained by D. : In accordance with journal policy, Pronczuk et al. were asked whether they wanted to respond to this letter, but they chose not to do so.
Boersma ER, Lanting CI. 2000. Environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins. Consequences for longterm neurological and cognitive development of the child lactation lactation
Production of milk by female mammals after giving birth. The milk is discharged by the mammary glands in the breasts. Hormones triggered by delivery of the placenta and by nursing stimulate milk production. . Adv Exp Med Biol 478:271-287.
Pronczuk J, Moy G, Vallenas C. 2004. Breast milk: an optimal food [Editorial]. Environ Health Perspect 112:A722-A723.
Ribas-Fito N, Cardo E, Sala M, Eulalia dM, Mazon C, Verdu A, et al. 2003. Breastfeeding, exposure to organochlorine compounds, and neurodevelopment in infants. Pediatrics 111:e580-e585.
Vreugdenhil HJ, Van Zanten GA, Brocaar MP, Mulder PG, Weisglas-Kuperus N. 2004. Prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and breastfeeding: opposing effects on auditory P300 latencies in 9-year-old Dutch children. Dev Med Child Neurol 46:398-405.
Unit for Health Services Research Health services research is the multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care,
and International Health
Child Health Institute
The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.