Lead exposure during breastfeeding

Jacquelyn Choi, Toshihiro Tanaka, Gideon Koren, Shinya Ito

Can Fam Physician Vol. 54, No. 4, April 2008, pp.515 – 516

QUESTION Owing to the recent concerns of lead (Pb) leaking into tap water, one of our female patients is concerned about the effects of Pb exposure to newborns while breastfeeding. How should I advise her and should she switch to formula feeding?

ANSWER Lead exposure through drinking tap water while breastfeeding is not associated with any serious concerns in most available studies. There is currently no safe level of Pb exposure, but environmental exposure within Canada is low. At present, Pb levels in drinking water are carefully monitored by Health Canada and are not likely to be of concern to breastfeeding mothers. Switching to formula feeding is not necessary and not recommended, as improperly prepared formula can have higher Pb levels.

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