Important Recent Evidence on the Subject of Breastfeeding


The U.S. Surgeon General has acknowledged that "research on the health outcomes of different modes of infant feeding is limited to observational studies, the results of which can only provide inferences on the association between feeding type and outcomes."1  Observational studies can be heavily distorted by confounders, or underlying, actual causes of the "associations" found in the studies. The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality points out that observational studies are subject to "false conclusion," because of confounders.2


Norway is at the very top level of the world's long-standing high-breastfeeding countries.3  There is therefore extra credibility in a statement about effects of breastfeeding if it is made by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, especially when they are summarizing "the largest study that has been done on breastfeeding and health."  That study was apparently also the only breastfeeding study that has utilized randomization, the best way to avoid effects of confounders.  Their statement was as follows:  "This study cuts the legs out from underneath most of the assertions that breastfeeding has health benefits." 4


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Many scientific studies have found that health outcomes are worse among children who were more breastfed than among children who were breastfed less or not at all, with at least 26 such studies in the categories of asthma, allergies and diabetes alone, three regarding autism, and one major study finding a dose-response relationship between toxins in breast milk and behavior scores in the breastfed children indicating likelihood of later having ADHD.5



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Average daily exposure of a breastfed infant to dioxin toxicity over the period of a year, as estimated by the EPA, is over 80 times higher than the reasonably-safe upper threshold of dioxin exposure estimated by EPA.6



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The Danish scientist who is author of nine studies on chemical contamination of human milk and 40 other studies, as well as Head of the Section of Environmental Technology of the Danish Institute of Technology, said, "The average levels of persistent organohalogens in human milk are normally 10 to 20 times higher than the levels in cow's milk or infant formulas." 7   Organohalogens include dioxins, PCBs and PBDEs, all of which are neuro-developmental toxins; all of them are also part of diesel emissions.8  This is especially significant in that diesel emissions were one of only two pollutants that were most strongly implicated in the 2013 Harvard study that found close correlations between autism diagnoses and environmental pollution at the times and places of the children's births.9



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A  U.S. study of all 50 U.S. states and 51 U.S. counties, carried out by a highly published scientist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, found that "exclusive breast-feeding shows a direct epidemiological relationship to autism," and also, "the longer the duration of exclusive breast-feeding, the greater the correlation with autism."10  


Two other studies, in the U.S. and U.K., came to conclusions similar to the above, with a dose-response relationship between breastfeeding and autism indicated by comparing the findings of the two studies.11



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



"Overwhelming evidence" (as stated by the UCLA Food & Drug Allergy Care Center) suggests that "the hygiene hypothesis explains most of the allergy epidemic."12  According to that, there are too few microbial challenges in our current environments in developed countries to properly stimulate development of the immune system.  So the undisputed immune cells in breast milk are further reducing challenges that apparently already have become too low for proper development of children.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


In the decades following the major increase of U.S. breastfeeding rates beginning in the 1970's, not one of the disorders alleged by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to be reduced by breastfeeding declined, as indicated by data from the CDC and other authoritative sources.  In fact, all but one actually increased substantially, often in precise correlation with major variations in the breastfeeding rate increases.13



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


There is one piece of advice about breastfeeding from earlier decades that still has validity, which is that lactation reduces a woman's body burden of persistent toxins (by means of excreting those toxins in breast milk), and it therefore might reduce her risk of cancer.  But, seeing the extremely close correlations between breastfeeding rates and incidences of childhood cancer14 as well as autism, some mothers are questioning whether it is desirable to transfer those toxins to their rapidly-developing babies at the most vulnerable times of the infants' lives.



For further information on the above subject, in an article only about four times as long as the above, go to  For considerable further information on the above subject, go to


Invitation to all readers to submit comments:    Can you (or your organization) provide evidence that contradicts any of the above?


Please send any responses to , and they will be posted below.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.



This is a publication of Pollution Action.  For additional information about us, and for a listing of our other free online publications on the subject of breastfeeding, go to






(1)  Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, 2011, p. 33 at


(2)   Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Systems to Rate the Strength of Scientific Evidence, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 47  at


(3)  See, noting Norway's 6-month rate in the Europe chart and then seeing the 6-month breastfeeding rates in the World data set, with only Mongolia and Rwanda sharing the top position.


(4)  "Breastfeeding is not as beneficial as once thought" (06.01.2010) published by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, at  Their statement was based on findings of the PROBIT study in Belarus. (This article, on the website of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, indicated no author; it therefore appears to be an established, official statement of the University, dated 2010 and accessed in 2013.)


(5)  See


(6)  Estimating Exposure To Dioxin-Like Compounds - Volume I: U.S. EPA, EPA/600/8-88/005Ca., 2002, revised 2005 –,  Section II.6, "Highly Exposed Populations" (p. 39)  The EPA estimated 60 pg of TEQ/kg-d of exposure.  For comparison, Jensen et al. (see footnote 7, p. 249), estimated between 50 and 100 pg of TEQ/kg-d.  

Also  in section 4.3.5, at end of that section, "...the resulting RfD in standard units is 7 × 10−10 mg/kg-day." (that is, O.7 pg of TEQ/kg-d)   In the EPA’s “Glossary of Health Effects”, RfD is defined:  “RfD (oral reference dose): An estimate (with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of magnitude) of a daily oral exposure of a chemical to the human population (including sensitive subpopulations) that is likely to be without risk of deleterious noncancer effects during a lifetime.”


(7) Jensen, A.A. et al, Chemical Contaminants in Human Milk, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Ann Arbor, Boston, 1991, p. 287. (Many libraries would not have this, but it should be available as an Inter-Library Loan.)


 For ease of referral to the sources indicated here, if there is no highlighted link, you can (a) use your cursor to drag over and select a URL from the footnote (select the letters beginning with www or http and ending just before the next space; be sure to select all of that but no more, not even a space), then (b) control - c  (to copy that); then (c) paste that (control - v) into the horizontal web-address slot at the top left of your browser page, then press ENTER on your keyboard. 


(8) (Dioxins and PCBs are well-known components of diesel emissions, and PBDEs are also present in those emissions): Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 11: 709–715, 2011 Copyright © Taiwan Association for Aerosol Research ISSN: 1680-8584 print / 2071-1409 online doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2011.05.0058 Reduction of Toxic Pollutants Emitted from Heavy-duty Diesel Vehicles by Deploying Diesel Particulate Filters Lien-Te Hsieh et al. at


(9) Perinatal Air Pollutant Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Children of Nurses’ Health Study II Participants, Roberts et al., published June, 2013 in Environmental Health Perspectives, at .


(10) Autism rates associated with nutrition and the WIC program. Shamberger R.J., Phd, FACN, King James Medical Laboratory, Cleveland, OH J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Oct;30(5):348-53. Abstract at


(11)  Breastfeeding and Autism  P. G. Williams, MD, Pediatrics, University of Louisville, and L. L. Sears, MD, presented at International Meeting for Autism Research, May 22, 2010, Philadelphia Marriot, found at   The percent of ASD-diagnosed patients who had been breastfed at 6 months was 37%, as compared with 13% in the control group (or 14% in the general Kentucky population). Also Trends in Developmental, Behavioral and Somatic Factors by Diagnostic Sub-group in Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Follow-up Analysis, pp. 10, 14   Paul Whiteley (Department of Pharmacy, Health & Well-being, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sunderland, UK), et al.  Autism Insights 2009:1 3-17  at    Also:  Patterns of breastfeeding in a UK longitudinal cohort study, Pontin et al., School of Maternal and Child Health, University of West of England, Bristol, UK.    The records showed that 65% of the children with those conditions had been “exclusively breastfed” for over four weeks.  After doing a search of available sources for a comparison figure for exclusive breastfeeding for over four weeks for the U.K. as a whole for the period in which those children would have been newborns, this author has come up with data from two different sources, which are consistent in leading to a figure of about 28%.  This is a lower ratio of cases to general population compared with the Williams study, in a study in which the duration of the breastfeeding being compared was also lower than in the Williams study.


 For ease of referral to the sources indicated here, if there is no highlighted link, you can (a) use your cursor to drag over and select a URL from the footnote (select the letters beginning with www or http and ending just before the next space; be sure to select all of that but no more, not even a space), then (b) control - c  (to copy that); then (c) paste that (control - v) into the horizontal web-address slot at the top left of your browser page, then press ENTER on your keyboard. 


(12)  "About Allergies/ Why Are Allergies Increasing?" found at



(13)  See


(14)  See




* For information about Pollution Action, and to see a listing of our other free, on-line publications on the subject of breastfeeding and its health effects, go to .