Mama Knows Breast




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Powerful Video About Environmental Toxins

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I get pitched story ideas all the time. Unless its a breastfeeding product, I usually take a quick look and then pass. But this video stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t prepared for it. It’s from a non-profit called Healthy Child, Healthy World. The group’s mission, in their words, is to ignite “a movement that inspires parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.” The group’s blog has tips and advice for creating a “safe, clean and green home.” There’s a book too (but I haven’t seen a copy yet). Most impressive, is the long list of supporters behind the group… A-list celebrities, well known doctors, and even Michelle Obama.

Breast Milk and Environmental Chemicals

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And one final blog post for a snugly Saturday night when it’s too cold to do anything and all of your babysitters are on vacation…
There’s a new study that found that despite the presence of some environmental chemicals, breast milk is still better than formula for babies. Here’s a link to the study in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine. From the study:
The essential conclusion for healthcare providers and new parents is that in studies of breastfed versus formula-fed infants across time, including times when levels of environmental chemicals such as dioxins were higher, beneficial effects associated with breast-feeding have been found.
And from a story in The New York Times:

Researchers reviewed data from three studies, among them a Dutch study of 418 infants and mothers, half of whom breast-fed and half of whom used formula; a smaller Dutch study of 38 mothers that assessed the impact of different levels of dioxin exposure; and a German study of 232 mothers and babies who had been exposed to dioxin before birth.
The studies noted minor differences among the exposed babies, such as higher levels of thyroid hormones and lower blood platelet counts, compared to infants who were not exposed to dioxins. But the researchers said these differences did not appear to have any impact on the children’s health and development, and they emphasized that the measures were not abnormal.
At the same time, breast-fed babies scored significantly higher than formula-fed babies on tests of mental development when they were seven months old and again at 18 months, according to the Dutch study.

Breastfeeding is Good For the Environment

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Anything you can do to cut down on the amount of stuff you send to a landfill has got to be eco-friendly. Breastfeeding falls into that category. So, boob fed babes=less trash.
Nursing Mother Supplies is recognizing this with an on-line contest. Here’s information from the site:
Get your saying on a t-shirt, win a $300 breastfeeding gift basket and help the environment all at the same time. We, at Nursing Mother Supplies, are searching behind every breastpump and baby to find a witty mom. We know there is a mom out there who has the perfect catch phrase to encompass the environmentally friendly impact of breastfeeding.
* The winning phrase will be printed on t-shirts and sold at nursingmothersupplies.com.
* All of the profit generated from the sale of t-shirts will be donated to charity.
* Fifty percent of the profit will be donated to La Leche League International to assist in its effort to promote breastfeeding.
* The other fifty percent will go to an environmental organization chosen by the winner.
Click here to enter. The deadline is April 30th.

Some Baby Bottles Leach Bisphenol A, a Dangerous Chemical

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As if you don’t have enough to think (ie. worry) about, here’s one to give you pause. Your baby’s plastic bottle… whether it contains formula or breast milk…could be dangerous to his health. A study by Environment California found that dangerous levels of a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) leaches out of bottles made by Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Evenflo, Gerber and Playtex.
Of course there’s a debate about the safety of BPA. The plastic industry, as expected, says it’s perfectly safe. But others say BPA disrupts hormones and is especially harmful to fetuses and young children.
Here’s a good summary from The Green Guide, a site owned by National Geographic.
Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity.
According to its critics, BPA mimics naturally occurring estrogen, a hormone that is part of the endocrine system, the body’s finely tuned messaging service. “These hormones control the development of the brain, the reproductive system and many other systems in the developing fetus,” says Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can duplicate, block or exaggerate hormonal responses. “The most harm is to the unborn or newborn child,” vom Saal says.
Plastic water and baby bottles, food and beverage can linings and dental sealants are the most commonly encountered uses of this chemical. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay put. BPA has been found to leach from bottles into babies’ milk or formula; it migrates from can liners into foods and soda and from epoxy resin-lined vats into wine; and it is found in the mouths of people who’ve recently had their teeth sealed. Ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So what can you do to keep your family safe? For your baby, consider using glass bottles. Evenflo makes some. The Green Guide (see the sidebar) also has this advice: “Use glass baby bottles or plastic bag inserts, which are made of polyethyelene, or switch to polypropylene bottles that are labeled #5 and come in colors or are milky rather than clear.”
Here are some other safety guidelines from Environment California and from The Green Guide (see the sidebar).

Can We Be The Greenest Generation?

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I am fairly obsessed today with Thomas Friedman’s piece in the New York Times about the imperative of reducing our dependence on oil. In short, he says, our oil addiction is killing the environment and putting us at risk of terrorism. We have to change. And we have to change fast. Please take the time to read this article. For a preview, read this:

How do our kids compete in a flatter world? How do they thrive in a warmer world? How do they survive in a more dangerous world? Those are, in a nutshell, the big questions facing America at the dawn of the 21st century. But these problems are so large in scale that they can only be effectively addressed by an America with 50 green states — not an America divided between red and blue states.
Because a new green ideology, properly defined, has the power to mobilize liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, big business and environmentalists around an agenda that can both pull us together and propel us forward. That’s why I say: We don’t just need the first black president. We need the first green president. We don’t just need the first woman president. We need the first environmental president. We don’t just need a president who has been toughened by years as a prisoner of war but a president who is tough enough to level with the American people about the profound economic, geopolitical and climate threats posed by our addiction to oil — and to offer a real plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels…
…Equally important, presidential candidates need to help Americans understand that green is not about cutting back. It’s about creating a new cornucopia of abundance for the next generation by inventing a whole new industry. It’s about getting our best brains out of hedge funds and into innovations that will not only give us the clean-power industrial assets to preserve our American dream but also give us the technologies that billions of others need to realize their own dreams without destroying the planet. It’s about making America safer by breaking our addiction to a fuel that is powering regimes deeply hostile to our values. And, finally, it’s about making America the global environmental leader, instead of laggard, which as Schwarzenegger argues would “create a very powerful side product.” Those who dislike America because of Iraq, he explained, would at least be able to say, “Well, I don’t like them for the war, but I do like them because they show such unbelievable leadership — not just with their blue jeans and hamburgers but with the environment. People will love us for that. That’s not existing right now.”

Right now, here’s what we do around this house to do our little part in protecting the environment. I breastfeed (so no bottles and formula containers going into landfills); we recycle; we write checks to non-profits; we turn off the lights when we leave a room and we don’t run the water in the sink for extended periods. Once I figure out who the most “green” candidate is, that person will get my vote. But I’m sure there must be more we can do. I don’t know what yet.
I’d love to hear from all of you what you do on a daily basis to help save the planet. Can we live up to the challenge Friedman poses, of becoming The Greenest Generation?
An unusual situation like this calls for the ethic of stewardship. Stewardship is what parents do for their kids: think about the long term, so they can have a better future. It is much easier to get families to do that than whole societies, but that is our challenge. In many ways, our parents rose to such a challenge in World War II — when an entire generation mobilized to preserve our way of life. That is why they were called the Greatest Generation. Our kids will only call us the Greatest Generation if we rise to our challenge and become the Greenest Generation.