General articles on developmental and health effects of breastfeeding:
A 3-page summary: at www.breastfeeding-effects.info.
The comments section of this website is a good introduction, since it includes comments by six doctors (some negative and some positive) on the contents of our articles. (at www.pollutionaction.org/comments.htm.) The comments by two of the doctors referring to our publications, quoted from their blogs, are especially helpful in putting into everyday language and briefer, personal terms some important points about topics that are dealt with in Pollution Action publications.
Our research paper, "Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding in Developed Countries," examining one-by-one the benefits said by U.S. Surgeon General Benjamin to result from breastfeeding, can be reached by going to http://www.breastfeedingprosandcons.info
A discussion of considerations relevant to a decision on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, specifically related to toxins that are present in both types of infant feeding, can be found at www.pollutionaction.org/breastfeeding-vs-formula.htm.
For information about the major increases in child disabilities and health disorders since the 1970's, and increases in breastfeeding that may underlie those increases, go to www.breastfeeding-health-effects.info .
Physicians’ legal duty to inform parents about negative as well as positive sides of an infant feeding recommendation, with malpractice implications: It appears that, when doctors recommend a specific type of infant feeding, they have a legal obligation also to tell the parents about developmental toxins that are recognized to be contained in that food, even if a one-sided recommendation is normal among physicians. See www.medical-liability.us.
Specific disorders and how they relate to breastfeeding:
ADHD and serious emotional and behavioral problems as related to breastfeeding: www.breastfeeding-and-adhd.info
Asthma and allergies: www.breastfeeding-and-asthma.info .
Autism: We offer many articles on that topic, listed a little farther down under the heading, “Autism spectrum disorder.”
Childhood cancer is discussed at the following two websites:
a) for a discussion that is lengthy but which has a detailed introductory summary with links for more information, see www.pollutionaction.org/breastfeeding-and-autism-and-cancer.htm; that article also discusses autism, since both cancer and autism are associated with some of the same environmental toxins.
b) For a much briefer article related just to cancer and breastfeeding, go to www.breastfeeding-and-cancer.info
Childhood diabetes, with special reference to its causes in relation to breastfeeding, is discussed at www.breastfeeding-and-diabetes.info
Childhood obesity, with special reference to its origins in breastfeeding, is discussed at www.pollutionaction.org/breastfeeding-and-obesity.htm .
SIDS and its relationship to breastfeeding is discussed at www.breastfeeding-and-sids.info .
Autism Spectrum Disorder:
For a general introduction, go to www.breastfeeding-and-autism.net
For much greater detail, but with a good introductory summary with links, and relating its origins to origins of childhood cancer (which in some important respects are similar), go to www.pollutionaction.org/breastfeeding-and-autism-and-cancer.htm
To read about findings of a recently-published major scientific study dealing with maternal mercury exposure and how that affects likelihood of autism in the child, comparing those and another study’s findings with contrasting well-established knowledge about effects of mercury on developing brains, go to www.breastfeeding-mercury.info.
To read about a study of all 50 U.S. states and 51 U.S. counties that found rates and durations of breastfeeding to be directly correlated with autism prevalence, plus two other studies leading to the same conclusion, see www.pollutionaction.org/appendix.htm.
To read about many correlations between higher and lower prevalence of autism and higher and lower breastfeeding rates, see www.autism-correlations.info.
To read about major findings in 2013 related to prevalence and origins of autism, with our proposed explanations for those and other findings, go to www.autism-research.net. For a similar article but with working links to almost all source documents, and with (at the end) critiquing offered by the Autism Speaks senior director for environmental and clinical science, and our responses to her comments, see www.autism-origins.info.
For an explanation of why risk of autism in children increases greatly with older maternal age, based on considerable scientific evidence, go to www.autism-research.net/older-mother-autism-risk.htm.
Increasing child disabilities in general:
Not only autism but many other disabilities have been increasing greatly among U.S. children in recent decades, and there seems to be very little but speculation offered to explain what have been the cause or causes. To read a well-reasoned commentary on this subject, drawing on considerable historical public health evidence and scientific studies from recent years, go to www.child-disability.info.
Air pollution and autism:
A subject that has receive much attention in scientific studies in the last few years has been the correlations found (in at least four studies) between autism incidence and exposures at about the time of birth to toxins contained in atmospheric pollution. To read detailed comments about how those studies are good illustrations of effects of postnatal exposures to atmospheric pollutants (especially those accumulated in the mother’s body for months, and transferred in concentrated form postnatally), go to www.air-pollution-autism.info.
Toxins in breast milk and formula:
For some points that an expecting or new mother should consider on how to minimize exposure of her (future?) baby to major autism-related pollutants, go to www.autismspeaksblog.info.
For evidence about four different neurodevelopmental toxins that have all been authoritatively found to be present in breast milk in concentrations far exceeding officially-established safe levels, go to www.autism-origins.info.
For a detailed discussion of the large number of different toxins that have been found in human milk, their sources in our environment (before entering the mother's body), their specific biological effects (often as found in tests with animals but also as found in studies of humans), and comparison of their concentrations in breast milk vs. in formula, go to www.breastfeeding-toxins.info. That website deals with dioxins, PCBs, mercury, PBDEs, lead, phthalates, perchlorate, PFOA, PFOS, cadmium, arsenic, and aluminum, and describes apparent effects of lactational exposure to those toxins as compared with prenatal exposure.
To read about some of the latest research on developmental harm caused by pollution (Harvard study published June, 2013) and how it is related to breastfeeding, specifically including diesel emissions, go to www.pollution-autism.info.
To read about neurodevelopmental effects of mercury, specifically (which is especially closely related to risk of autism), go to www.mercury-effects.info.
For a toxin-by-toxin, study-by-study comparison of the principal toxins in breast milk vs. those in formula, see www.breastmilk-vs-formula-toxins.info.
When discussing effects of neurodevelopmental toxins, a matter that often comes up is the widely-held assumption that prenatal exposures to toxins, rather than postnatal exposures, are essentially the only exposures that make a difference to development of a child’s brain. That assumption, which is valid for some toxins, is not at all valid for some other very harmful toxins, as explained in substantial detail at www.autism-research.net/postnatal-effects.htm.
Scientific studies that found breastfeeding to be adversely related to a range of childhood diseases:
Three studies on the subject of breastfeeding and attention deficits and hyperactivity, 3 on the subject of breastfeeding and autism, 6 related to breastfeeding and obesity, 6 on breastfeeding and diabetes, 22 on breastfeeding and asthma or allergies, one relating breastfeeding to ear infections, and 11 studies that relate breastfeeding to developmental problems; not counted in the 50+ total are 6 studies (which include a clear majority of the high-quality studies related to SIDS) that found no beneficial effect of breastfeeding on SIDS incidence; see www.breastfeeding-studies.info.
Immune cells in breast milk: It is often said that these help ward off infections in the breastfed child, and this is not disputed. But there is an extremely serious question as to whether that short-term benefit stunts the development of the child’s own immune system, resulting in long-term harm. To read about the “hygiene hypothesis” in this regard, go to www.breastfeeding-research.info/hygiene-hypothesis.htm.
The purely favorable side of the breastfeeding debate is regularly stated in one-sided presentations, so it is reasonable in response to make a general presentation of just the negative side of the breastfeeding question, which can be seen at www.breastfeedingnegatives.info.
Difficulties with breastfeeding? Some important considerations will be found at www.breastfeedingdifficulties.info .
Two key questions that should be asked of anybody who is telling mothers that they ought to breastfeed, but which none of breastfeeding’s promoters seem to be able to answer, at www.breastfeeding-questions.info . If people can’t answer the questions, which draw on facts based on impeccable authority (indicated in footnotes), they have no basis for promoting breastfeeding. But nobody seems to be able to answer the questions; the doctors’ associations that promote breastfeeding have never responded to any of three or more letters to each of them from this organization, asking such questions. (The questions are each over 20 words long, so it helps to be able to print them out for handing to those who are telling people to breastfeed, therefore the questions are in one-page printable form at www.breastfeeding-effects.info/Q.)
From the inception of these publications in early 2012 until the present, the invitation has been extended to all readers to submit criticisms, asking them to point out how anything written here is not well supported by authoritative sources (as cited) or is not logically based on the evidence presented. As of October 18, 2014, after over two years, only two specific criticisms of contents of our articles have been received in response to that invitation. (That is significant, considering the tens of thousands of visits we receive from readers every month.) Our publications have been improved as a result of those two criticisms, and we look forward to receiving more. All comments are welcome. Please send comments, criticisms, or questions to email@example.com . Quite clearly, many people don't like our conclusions; they just can't find anything wrong with the evidence or reasoning that leads to the conclusions. Those who can't provide any criticisms of any of our content also include officials of government agencies that promote breastfeeding, to whom we have written repeatedly.
About Pollution Action
This organization consists to a great extent of one person, me (Don Meulenberg), but I receive considerable data-gathering and analysis assistance from several associates, as mentioned below. I am not a scientist, but my education included challenging biology and chemistry courses, in which I did well; and I am quite able to accurately pull together and summarize relevant sections from the many scientific studies and health data sources that are available in the fields I am concerned with. This orientation has some advantages compared with studies by PhD's, which tend to go into great detail in narrowly-defined areas, and which typically conclude with recommendations for future multi-year studies on the subject. I received scores in the top 1% on standardized tests when in high school, hold a B.A. cum laude from Oberlin College, and stood in the top third of my class during a year at Harvard's Graduate School of Business Administration. There were important aspects of the business-school case-study method that have been helpful in making my work more practically useful (I believe) than much or most of what has been written on these subjects, as follows: After carefully studying large amounts of printed matter on a subject and doing whatever numerical calculations seem relevant, one is expected to come up with well-considered recommendations for action. Apparent insufficiency of information available on a subject should not lead one to be satisfied to recommend future long-term studies, if there is a serious problem now. Work around gaps in the available data as best you can, and come up with an action plan reasonably quickly that you can defend in plain English on the basis of the data and common sense. As applied in this case, that approach meant poring through hundreds of studies and reports, plotting local disability data and analyzing pollution figures (with the aid of spreadsheet software), then winnowing out some apparent patterns for closer looks, utilizing the excellent computer expertise, diligent data analysis and real-world knowledge of Matt Hulbert, proof-reading, general assistance and excellent advice of Greta Hammen, accurate data entry, computations, and map-shading assistance from various associates (especially Richard Hybl and Tim Gill), considerable and invaluable assistance from reference librarians at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library (especially Lee Criscuolo, Holly Schemmer and Courtney McAllister) in locating difficult-to-access scientific articles and providing additional helpful information sources that I hadn’t even requested, and very helpful thoughts and guidance to information sources from Professor James Corbett of the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
The credibility of the contents of the above-mentioned articles is entirely based on the authoritative sources that are referred to in the numerous footnotes: The sources are mainly the EPA, NIH, CDC, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and many reputable academic researchers, writing in peer-reviewed journals; those sources are essentially always referred to in footnotes that follow anything that is said in the text that is not common knowledge. In most cases a link is provided that allows easy referral to the original source(s) of the information. If the link is not a working link, you can normally use your cursor to select it, then copy it (control - c usually does that), then “paste” it (control - v) into the open slot at the top of your browser, for taking you to the website where the original, authoritative source of the information can be found. You are strongly encouraged to check the source(s) regarding anything you read that seems to be questionable, and to notify me of anything said in my text that does not seem to accurately represent what was said by the source. I have made major efforts to be accurate, but mistakes are always possible, and I will correct anything found to be inaccurate.
I own a small U.S. manufacturing company and manage it when I'm not working on pollution and developmental matters. We are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA. Since my company's products compete significantly with imports from Asia, my attention was originally drawn to the subject of environmental toxins when I became aware of the increasing pollution emitted by ships bringing imports to U.S. shores. I was also inspired to look into the subject of sources of mental impairment by seeing an increase in sales of my company’s damage-resistant products for use in residences for mentally-handicapped young people.
Full disclosure: The name of my small Virginia manufacturing company is not mentioned here because doing so might cause some people to think that my writing and publicizing of findings is intended to generate publicity for my company. Anyone who is curious could find out the nature of my business with little difficulty. I have no financial or other interest in infant formula or in anything that could benefit from my research.
Office Address: Pollution Action, 33 McWhirt Loop, Ste. 115, Fredericksburg, VA 22406
www.pollutionaction.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org