Environmental Exposures/Toxicants

Do chemicals in the environment pass to infants through breast milk?

While some women may have detectable levels of chemical agents in their breast milk, no established “normal” or “abnormal” levels exist to aid in clinical interpretation. As a result, breast milk is not routinely tested for environmental pollutants.

Should women exposed to environmental toxins breastfeed?

Breastfeeding is still recommended despite the presence of chemical toxins. The toxicity of chemicals may be most dangerous during the prenatal period and the initiation of breastfeeding. However, for the vast majority of women the benefits of breastfeeding appear to far outweigh the risks. To date, effects on the nursing infant have been seen only where the mother herself was clinically ill from an toxic exposure.

For additional information regarding environmental contaminants and breast milk, visit