JULY 4, 2012


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dr daveFrom the Going-Just-a-Tad-Overboard file comes the story of Elizabeth McGarry, detained at Kennedy Airport by security staff for attempting to stow breast milk aboard a plane. She was forced to drink from her own breast milk (I assume that she used the bottle, otherwise ... well ...) to prove to security that it was not going to be used to bring about the destruction of the free world. Far be it from me to judge these boobs ... er ... security staff, but what, other than a stiff breeze, was going through their minds?

“Ralph, I need backup over in sector 7. It appears we might have a 36D in progress.”

Is breast milk dangerous? Well, hold on to your soothers folks because, apparently in the wrong hands, it can be downright nasty.

The advantages of breast milk (for babies only) are now well documented. Breast-fed infants have less asthma, allergies, ear infections, gastrointestinal infections, meningitis, respiratory infections, etc. They enjoy an IQ some 8 points higher on average than their formula fed friends, have more fun at the beach and are responsible for world peace in Kansas.

Every pediatrician from Dr. Spock to Captain Kangaroo recommends that babies enjoy mother’s milk for at least six months, longer if possible. Even the mother derives benefits, encountering less ovarian and premenopausal breast cancer, to say nothing of the bonding that takes place while Junior latches on and tugs away as though he were in a Slurpee guzzling contest.

But the breast can also be a dumping ground for many environmental toxins a mother might have been exposed to over the years. Breasts, being primarily fat, accumulate fat-soluble toxins such as benzenes, toluenes, mercury, lead, broccoli and more importantly PCB’s and dioxins. Humans are at the top of the food chain (excluding grizzly bears and those freaky guys in Lord of the Rings.) Over many years, humans gradually accumulate fat-soluble toxins from plants and animals that have been reared in a pesticide-laden, chemical soup. These are in turn concentrated in breast milk and from there a whopping 20 percent of a mother’s total fat-soluble chemical load is transferred to the baby over six months of breast-feeding. With several tons of PCB’s falling on the Canadian Arctic, Arctic mothers have been found with large concentrations of toxins in their milk, after it thaws out. Inuit children were subsequently found to have a mildly diminished immune system.

Women in Michigan who ate fish from the Great Lakes ended up suckling their wee ones into significant developmental delay, thanks to PCB’s and dioxins.

But don’t throw out the baby with the breast milk just yet. Breast-feeding remains head and shoulders above any other method of infant nutrition. But there are some useful precautions to take should pregnancy or breast feeding (the latter often requiring the former) be in your future.

Avoid extended exposure to dry cleaners, hair salons, print shops, body shops or any other environment where solvents, fumes, metals, paint thinners etc. might be inhaled.

Avoid hobbies such as glass staining, model building or glue sniffing.

Wash foods of all pesticides thoroughly or use organically grown food.

Ensure your workplace is safe for pregnant and lactating women. Have an industrial hygienist assess this if necessary.

Decrease use of cleaning products around the home or work. (Guys, my hate mail box is already full.) Don’t eat fish from rivers or lakes that have high potential of contamination.
Avoid renovating homes built before 1950 (leaded paint). Decrease exposure to caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and drugs as most of these are passed in breast milk.

It behooves every mother/airplane milk smuggler to try and provide the best possible start to their child’s life. No sense crying over spilt weaponry.

Learn more and meet Dr. Dave or contact him at www.wisequacks.org.