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Thread: Nursing and Lead Poisoning

  1. #1

    Question Nursing and Lead Poisoning

    Hi ladies,

    My story is long and convoluted, but I will try to be as succinct as possible. I will start with a bullet point list and go from there :-)

    * my wee lady was born Dec 2011 and started nursing from the hour she was born.
    * we have a very supportive pediatrician of our co-sleeping, extended breast feeding lifestyle and have been going strong for 18 months now.
    * we live in Chicago, notorious for big beautiful "vintage rehabbed" apartments and I did work from home, thereby keeping with a nursing on demand schedule well into the first birthday.
    * I started 'fun food time' at around 8 months with our gummy girl (who didn't get her first teeth till 12.5 m). She loves spice and all my weird ethnic foods, but still today is not a huge eater even though she is an adventurous eater.
    * Dec 2012, at one year wellness we found out our sweet babe had anemia and an elevated BLL level of 15. This set off a whirlwind of inspectors, city health officials, multiple tests/blood draws, and eventual iron drop regime to help bring the lead levels down fast.
    * we immediately removed her from our home, had the holidays, and at the end of January we all moved out, put our stuff in storage, and have been staying with family till we find a healthy and safe home either here in Chicago or elsewhere....which is turning into a fiasco btw (but that's a whole other post).
    * we've done a LOT of bouncing around to different grandparents homes in 4 different states and there has been a lot of upheaval. In fact, my partner (and Lil S's dad) just left yesterday on a job (in tv production) to Texas for 4 months while we stay here at his sister's house. She too is on the same job and left yesterday, so it's just me and my babe for a bit.

    The one constant through all this, besides having very supportive family and friends, has been me breast feeding our girl. It has brought both of us much needed comfort, relaxation, nutrition for her, and it has been key to keeping me calm and focused during all this rigmarole. We did have me tested back in December, because I was a lactating mom and had lived in that apartment for 5.5 years. MY BLL levels were slightly elevated but not so striking that we needed a course of treatment for me. We did NOT test my breast milk though because we are uninsured and could not afford it.

    Our pediatrician (the woman with two kids whom I really trust) asked me if I would forcibly wean if I found out I had elevated levels of lead in my breast milk? Talk about a loaded question. I asked her what she would do in my situation. And she told me that she would continue BFing, because seeing how my BLL levels were did not give her cause for alarm that I was giving my daughter high amounts lead through breast milk. She put me at ease that because we removed her and I so quickly out of the home that any amounts of lead in my breast milk would filter out.

    Fortunately my DD's BLL dropped to a 9 in March and we are awaiting results from yesterday's testing.

    I guess what I'm looking for here on this board is anyone else who may have gone/is going through something similar. And some support for me. I've been so stressed since Dec and am really good at internalizing it so that I now have stomach issues and have lost a lot of weight-yay! *Sidenote* i love how everyone says how great i look now and asks me how i lost all the weight (i wasnt THAT big to begin with) and i just reply with my snarky "Go get you a lead poisoned kid, months of being vagabonds, and a partner who has to work out of state. It does amazing things for your figure!"

    Now I'm getting flack from even friends and family members because lil S is "still breast feeding" and "with all your health issues and her lead poisoning she really should be eating more food shouldn't she?" We just had a trip to the docs yesterday. She's grown 3 in and gained 2.5 lbs since March. She's just not a big chunky toddler. She's on the smaller side (32 in and 22.5 lbs) but she's on her growth curve and gosh darn it, her doctor is not worried so why should everyone else be?

    But I am worried. (And here's the real point of my post)
    Because I am mom and that's what I do.

    I'm worried that she's not getting enough nutrition to help continue filtering the lead out. She goes through days where she will eat anything I put in front of her (especially if there's my spicy homemade salsa on it) and then other days all she wants is "mama milk," or "bop.". We do nurse to sleep at night but not to nap. She does still wake up once a night to nurse (especially if we're doing a 10/11 hr sleep), and she nurses all day -many times throughout the day. We give her some cow and goat milk, have tired homemade coconut milk and almond milk, and I try to make eating fun....but for me it's not...because I am mama and I worry when all she does is throw my food on the floor.

    Some people tell me I have to get her on a strict diet and need to wean her immediately. Others tell me I'm doing great and that toddlers can be fussy about eating at this age and "seem to run on only eating air." Others tell me I should watch out for fat intake because lead stores in fat cells...but you need good fats for brain development...so....argh!

    So, what say you. What are your thoughts mamas?
    I think if we just had a normal situation of a picky eater, that would be one thing. But because we are still healing from lead poisoning I am concerned about our girl's nutritional habits. All of the above goes without saying that our sweet lil S is very active, outgoing, talkative, started walking at 10 months, is emotionally well balanced and secure, attached to mom but completely independent too. She seems like a really healthy and happy kiddo even with all this BS we are going through.

    Should I just stop with the worrying and keep going with my intuition? Or should I be concerned that she's not a big eater yet?

    Thanks so much if you made it through my whole post.
    I know it's a lot to digest. It's been a lot for me to digest since December.

    Health, light, and happiness to all of you,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Default Re: Nursing and Lead Poisoning

    Welcome to the forum! What a story! You've certainly been dealing with a lot of scary stuff over the past few months :/

    I honestly don't know much about lead poisoning or weaning...but I've seen a number of posts about picky eaters and pressure to wean, and the question from the veteran moms is always "why would you take away the one sure source of good nutrition?" Weaning does not guarantee that your picky eater would start eating a wonderfully full diet. I'm curious to know how anyone would get an 18 month old on a 'strict diet', lol.

    If I've read your post right, it sounds like your daughter's lead levels are going down. It sounds like over the course of a few days or a week, she does eat well overall. The docs didn't feel you needed to wean when the poisoning was acute. Your baby is gaining weight and is happy and well adjusted. Sounds to me like it's all good! Follow your instincts, mama!

    Good luck with the house stuff...I hope you find your own permanent place soon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Nursing and Lead Poisoning

    We did have a lovely mama here who had a lead fiasco- here's her thread about it: http://forums.llli.org/showthread.ph...7-Lead-Testing.

    The PP nailed it: there's absolutely no guarantee that weaning will suddenly turn your child into a "good" eater. It will just take away one certain source of nutrition, not to mention the parenting benefit of being able to immediately soothe a cranky, sick, or hurt baby.

    The thing about lead and fat cells seems silly to me. Yes, lead does get stored in fat. But that's really only a problem when the fat is burned, releasing the lead into the bloodstream, where it could reach a toxic level (if enough fat is metabolized). I actually think that more fat- yes, MORE!- would be the diet of choice here. That way, any lead that is taken in- from the environment, from whatever lead is in your milk at this point- would be stored instead of circulating right now, when your kid's lead levels are already problematic. Yes, maybe in the future the fat will get burned and the lead will be released, but hopefully by that time your child's lead level will be so low that a little additional lead from an old fat deposit just won't present a problem.

    So sorry about the lead, mama. My husband and I sometimes look at each other and wonder how we made it through childhood, what with all the toxins we played in and around. The peeling lead paint. The DDT truck coming by every day to knock down the mosquitoes. The times we broke thermometers on purpose just so we could play with the mercury. We turned out fine, though. Hopefully your LO will, too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Nursing and Lead Poisoning

    Ai yi yi. What a tough time you have had! ok, I have no knowledge of the lead in breastmilk thing. Have you tried calling infantrisk for info on that?

    Re: your question-I suggest you read the book my child won't eat by pediatrician Carlos Gonzalez for a great perspective on the real science about about kids and food.

    In my experience, those uninformed about or uncomfortable with normal duration breastfeeding (or breastfeeding full stop) will, if they are of the busybody persuasion, use ANY excuse to put down breastfeeding or blame breastfeeding for any and everything. Breastfeeding appariently makes your kid to fat, too thin, too clingy, too wakeful, too picky, and who knows what all. It's all, every bit of it, utter hogwash.

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