Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Avoid PBDEs in Breast Milk

Most people today realize that you can try everything possible, and still not prevent toxins from infiltrating your baby somehow. In the last 10 years, the buzz about fire retardants has been pretty constant, especially with the news that they have been found in breast milk. Many moms then felt that breastfeeding was not good because the fire retardants would be entering their babies' systems from their breast milk. This is not true!
Toxic PBDE chemicals (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which are commonly used in products such as carpets, textiles, polyurethane foam furnishings, electronics, plastics, and motor vehicles, are also unfortunately used in actual baby products. (See a listing here.)
According to Dr. Mercola,
"PBDEs disrupt mechanisms that are responsible for releasing hormones in your body, as well as alter calcium signaling in your brain, which is a critical mechanism for learning and memory.
These chemicals actually resemble the molecular structure of PCBs, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and impaired fetal brain development.
Higher exposures to PBDEs have been linked to decreased fertility, which could be in part because the chemicals may mimic your thyroid hormones. Previous research has suggested PBDEs can lead to decreases in TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). When present with normal T4 levels, low TSH is typically a sign that you're developing hyperthyroidism, which can have significant ramifications both for you and your unborn child if you're pregnant."
So how do you prevent as much of these toxic chemicals from reaching your baby and your breast milk?
First, before you even become pregnant, sleep on a wrapped mattress. Sleep on a wrapped mattress as long as you are nursing your baby, to help prevent as much of the PBDEs from entering your body while you sleep. Not only can the toxins affect your baby in utero, it can continue to affect him through exposure to your breast milk. Keeping your breast milk as free from PBDEs as possible is your main goal, so look around your house for other ways to decrease exposure.
Second, make sure to change where your baby spends most of his time: his mattress. Wrap this with a BabeSafe mattress cover, and you are keeping these flame retardants from him for a greater part of his day. Also, don't constantly leave your baby in swings, infant carriers, etc. where the PBDEs are used.
For more information on how to shop for future products, check out this sheet from the Environmental Working Group.

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