Pollutants in Breast Milk

The connection between the mother’s new job and her child’s illness

The mother had delivered a healthy baby before she started working at the small manufacturing plant. Her baby fell ill and was hospitalized just a few months after she had started her new job. The woman discussed her infant’s condition with her co-workers, and she found out that there were similarities to events that led to the illness of another child of her female co-worker. Three things strongly suggest that the mother’s new job and her child’s illness were connected.

First, the infant was healthy until the mother started her new job. Second, it was established that there were similarities to the events that led to the illness of another female co-worker’s child. There were chances that the two women could have inhaled some toxins which were incorporated into the breast milk in the mammary glands (Kacew, Yi & Lu, 2013; Rogan, 1996). Therefore, it can be determined that the child’s sickness was connected with its mother’s new job at the manufacturing plant.

Factors to address

The industrial environment has been shown to contain many health hazards (Rogan, 1996). There could have been dangerous chemicals in the small manufacturing plant which workers were exposed to for long periods of time. Prolonged exposure to dangerous chemicals implies that their concentrations could rise to the level that they could be transmitted to other persons through interactions, like breastfeeding. If measures are not implemented to minimize industrial workers’ exposure to dangerous chemicals, then their health and that of their families could be negatively influenced. In order to prove that the child’s sickness was a result of the mother’s new job, it could be essential to establish the chemical components that the workers at the manufacturing plant were handling. Research demonstrates that many chemicals could enter the body through the skin and inhalation (Rogan, 1996). Some of the chemicals are DDT and DDE, among others (Kacew et al., 2013). Thorough chemical analysis requires testing the suspected chemicals in the child’s blood and mother’s breast milk (Rogan, 1996). To have a better correlation, the tests should also be carried out on the female co-worker and her sick child. If the suspected chemicals are found in the four samples tested, then it can be proved that the child’s sickness was connected with the mother’s new job.

A court case

Assuming that laboratory confirmatory tests could prove that the child fell ill because of consuming (through breastfeeding) chemicals the mother was exposed to at work, the woman might have a case to argue in a court. It is illegal for industries across the world to fail to implement measures to minimize exposure to dangerous chemicals. The woman could argue that her child fell ill because of the dangerous chemical exposures she had at work. She could call for legal actions to be taken against her employer for failing to implement measures to prevent workers from prolonged exposures to health hazards.


Kacew, S., Yi, P. M., & Lu, F. C. (2013). Lu’s basic toxicology. Fundamentals, target organs, and risk assessment (6th ed.). New York, NY: Informa Healthcare.

Rogan, W. J. (1996). Pollutants in breast milk. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 150(9), 981.

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