Fran Drescher: Breastfeeding Could Be Poisoning Your Child, Really?

It is highly upsetting to me when celebrities tackle delicate topics especially when they know next to nothing about them!  Here’s what ‘The Nanny’ had to say:

“American women have the highest amount of flame retardant in their breast milk,” she says. “We’re selling these women that breast milk is the second coming. Breasts are like big sponges.”

As the Analytical Armadillo had said when a similar article came out some months ago there are many details at play here.  The most important point being this:

Researchers from Ohio State and Johns Hopkins universities measured levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breast milk and in the air inside the homes of three lactating Baltimore mothers, finding that :

“A nursing infant’s chemical exposure from airborne pollutants to be between 25 and 135 times higher than from drinking mother’s milk. (1)”

Now, why does this happen even when women in the US (and especially in California) are exposed to much higher levels of flame retardants than other women around the world?  Because our body stores toxins in fat.  Imagine them as being locked up in this little bubble of fat.  They stay there until you start burning that fat for fuel.  When does this happen?  In situation of famine/starvation and also during crash dieting (think low carb diets).  That’s when it is the most dangerous because the body will burn only fat for fuel and a high amount of the toxins will come out.  That is why some argue that cleanses can be good but they are definitely not recommended while breastfeeding.

There’s a lot more that can be said on this topic and a lot more that we can all do to make sure that there are less toxins in our environment but the main idea that I want to leave you with is that breastmilk is always best for children.  Also that a lot of people open their mouth without knowing squat, especially when they can get a lot of media coverage ;).

Let’s finish on a good note though, from the article on The Guardian a little bit of actual evidence based data:

“If human breast milk, nature’s perfect food, came stamped with an ingredients label, it would read something like this: 4% fat, vitamins A, C, E and K, sugars, essential minerals, proteins, enzymes and antibodies. It contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance of virtually everything a baby needs to grow, plus extras to help ward off a lifetime of diseases, from diabetes to cancer.”

Although the “plus extras” list is so long I think it would need to be a pretty big label.

Keep on nursin’ mamas!  Also keep on educating those who might fall prey to scandalous headlines with little truth to them like this one from ‘The Nanny’.


1. Volatile Organic Compounds in Human Milk:  Methods and Measurements. Sung R. Kim,Rolf U. Halden, and, and Timothy J. Buckley* Environmental Science & Technology 2007 41 (5), 1662-1667

If you need breastfeeding help, please contact your local support group, La Leche League or Nursing Mothers Counsel. You can also email me at

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