Forever chemicals dilemma for breastfeeding mothers

Doctors’ recommendations regarding breastfeeding versus formula feeding have been evolving for decades. Today, most doctors would say that breastfeeding reaps the most benefits for mothers and their children. However, the presence of PFA’s in breastfeeding mothers has alarming effects on their children. When new and expecting mothers expressed concern to their doctors and health departments, many of them were denied breast milk testing by the state. This testing would help determine the levels of PFA’s they are giving to their children. 

In 2015, a small town in New York was notified that there were PFA’s found in their drinking water. Maryann Jacobs, a resident of Hoosick Falls, had her baby son tested for PFA levels after becoming growingly concerned. The results of the test revealed that although he had never drinken the contaminated water, he had alarmingly high PFA levels – equivalent to that of a factory worker. Although Maryann’s PFOA level was near 0, and she had not drinken the contaminated water since she had become pregnant or while she was breastfeeding, she still transferred dangerous levels of PFA’s through breastfeeding. This dilemma is not specific to Hoosick Falls. PFA’s have been identified all over the United States, leaving breastfeeding mothers with a complicated dilemma. 

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was granted a $30 million dollar budget to conduct a study in locations which have been affected by PFA’s. This study has been delayed multiple times. However, the Biden administration has made it clear that they are focused on following through with their promises to take action regarding PFA pollution.