Topic Overview

While you are
breastfeeding, avoid exposure to poisonous
substances, which may be in contaminated water, food, or air. Heavy metals such
as lead and mercury, some pesticides, and other industrial or household
chemicals can sometimes end up in breast milk.

If mercury builds up to toxic levels in the human body, it can cause brain damage. Overall, fish and shellfish are healthy foods, but it’s best for breastfeeding moms to avoid eating fish high in mercury. It can be harmful when mercury is passed to your baby through your breast milk.

Make sure your household and work areas are not hazardous. Use
common sense to avoid strong chemicals, such as pesticides. If you are unsure
or concerned about exposures, contact your local health department for
information about whether special testing is warranted.

Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about your exposure to

Other Places To Get Help


La Leche League International

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Women’s Health


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017