The newborn stage and childhood are periods of high susceptibility to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs).

Some EDCs may be found in breast or formula milk.

Your child may be exposed to chemicals from plastic toys and dust.

Exposure to EDCs after birth may affect the child’s development.

Our tips to reduce your risk

Use wooden toys that are free from EDCs.

If you can, buy organic food and avoid pre-packaged food.

Avoid baby care products containing EDCs.

Dust and vacuum regularly.

Buy cleaning products that don’t contain EDCs.

What is the newborn period?

The newborn period (also known as the postnatal period) is the period immediately after birth. Most organs continue their development during this period, while the breast goes into a dormant phase.

Can EDCs be found in baby milk?

Some studies have found EDCs in breast and formula milk. The mother may be exposed to EDCs from the environment or in her diet. The chemicals may then enter the breast milk and possibly reach the baby. EDCs may also enter formula milk from plastic bottles or packaging. For this reason, bisphenol A (BPA) was banned from baby bottles in 2011. Formula milk is also highly regulated and there are strict criteria to prevent contamination from pesticides.

More research is needed in this area to understand the effects of EDC exposure on babies.

Breast Cancer UK supports breastfeeding. You can read more about breastfeeding and its many benefits here. If you are breastfeeding, you can limit your exposure to chemicals by choosing organic food and checking the ingredients of cosmetics and other personal care products before using them.

Why is EDC exposure in children higher than in adults?

Children may be exposed to EDCs, including a group called phthalates, from plastic toys, especially when they put them in their mouths. Phthalates can also accumulate in dust to which children are exposed to when crawling around. For these reasons, the exposure to phthalates in children may be higher than in adults.

What are the possible consequences of EDC exposure on my child?

A possible link between the effects of EDC exposure in the newborn and the development of the brain has been noted in some studies. However, more research is needed in this area.

Is there a link between EDC exposure in newborns and children with breast cancer?

So far, studies have been limited. More research is needed to study if EDC exposure in newborns and children increases breast cancer risk later in life.

For more details and references, please see our Critical Windows of Susceptibility for Breast Development science review.

Please see our leaflet on how to protect yours and your baby’s health.

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