Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Flame retardants in Canadian breast milk raise concerns
Last Updated Tue, 08 Jun 2004 10:40:16, CBC
"TORONTO - Women in Canada have the second highest levels of brominated flame retardants in the world, after the U.S. Health Canada said the levels haven't been shown to be hazardous but the department supports an Environment Canada proposal to declare the chemicals toxic.Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs are related to PCBs. The chemicals are added to foams and plastics in couches, mattresses, computers and TVs, saving lives by preventing them from bursting into flames.
Dr. Robin Walker is a neonatalogist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. He agrees with Health Canada that the risks of BPDEs are not proven but adds newborns are highly sensitive to environmental pollution. "If the evidence is strong enough to persuade the United States and the European Union to remove certain of these products from the market, perhaps that evidence is strong enough to do the same in Canada," said Walker. Until then, Walker said mothers should continue nursing their babies because the known benefits of breast milk outweigh the unknown risks."

[This key advice to women - to continue breastfeeding - is missing from the original Globe and Mail story and from the Canadian Press report that was picked up by many daily newspapers across Canada this morning. INFACT CAnada has an excellent fact sheet on contaminants in breastmilk. - JC]

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