Silicone breast implants and breast feeding

Breast-feeding is known to be nutritionally superior to commercial infant formulas. Breast milk also has immune-boosting properties, and seems to reduce the chance of the baby developing common childhood conditions, such as eczema, otitis media, and iron-deficiency anemia. In other words, it’s good for the baby.

Women who are considering breast augmentation with silicone gel implants often ask me whether their breast milk would somehow get “contaminated” from their implants, making the milk potentially harmful for their baby.

Well, let’s look at the science. Quite a bit of research has been done on this topic at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada. The researchers there measured silicon levels in the breast milk of lactating women with silicone gel implants, and also in women who didn’t have any breast implants. They also analyzed the silicon levels in cow’s milk, and in 26 commercial infant formulas.

Silicon levels are used, since there is no satisfactory method of analysis of silicones. Silicon assays also include silica and silicate compounds, and are felt to be a reliable estimate of silicone levels. The samples were prepared in an “ultraclean” laboratory and analyzed using atomic absorption spectrophotometry.

Here are the results, in descending order:

Commercial infant formulas:….. 4402.5 parts per billion (average)
Cow’s milk:……………………. 708.9 parts per billion

Blood levels – no implants:…… 103.7 parts per billion
Blood levels – with implants:…. 79.29 parts per billion

Breast milk – with implants:….. 55.4 parts per billion
Breast milk – no implants:……. 51.0 parts per billion

Comparing women with breast implants to those without implants, the average silicon levels were not statistically different in either the breast milk, or in the blood.

Since lactating women with silicone breast implants are similar to women without implants in terms of levels of silicon in their breast milk, this would strongly suggest that women with silicone breast implants can go ahead and safely breast-feed their babies without any worries about having “contaminated” milk.

Silicon levels are actually 10 times higher in cow’s milk and even higher in infant formulas, compared to breast milk.So, maybe it’s time to avoid using commercial formulas, if you’re worried about silicone !!

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