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 July 13, 2015
Pesticide content found in mothers milk in Sirsa, India

 Once considered the basic nutrition for an infant till the first few months after delivery, mother's milk may not be safe anymore if the government doesn't take timely measures to control the excess use of harmful pesticides and insecticides.

The findings of a research, which was conducted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Sciences at Chaudhary Devi Lal University in Sirsa, pose questions on breastfeeding campaigns launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Dr Rinki, a research scholar who conducted the detailed study on the presence of pesticide residues in mother's milk in Haryana's Sirsa district, found that women breastfeeding their babies were passing on a serious dose of pesticide to the infants.

The presence of such residues in mother's milk in Sirsa was pegged at 0.12 milligrams per kg, a figure about hundred times the estimates of the World Health Organisation. Dr Rinki had collected samples of mother's milk from 40 women and studied the presence of pesticide residues in 80 children aged between 8 months and two years. The residues magnified ten times in the babies after they were breastfed, as per the findings. The study was conducted over a period of three years.

"Pesticides are reaching inside the human body by way of biomagnification. The fodder being given to milch animals is infected and contains residues of pesticides. The residues infect the animal's milk, which enters the human body by way of consumption. Accumulation of fat-soluble chemicals in the mother's body produces milk laced with pesticides, which is later magnified 10 times when the infant is fed," Dr Rani Devi, head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Sciences at Chaudhary Devi Lal University, told Mail Today.

Dr Rani Devi said that Sirsa borders Punjab's Bhatinda district, where unchecked use of pesticides in the cotton belt has led to widespread deaths triggered by cancer. She said that Sirsa could just be the tip of the iceberg and many more women in the state must be feeding babies will pesticide-laced milk. "We are also planning a detailed study on the presence of pesticides in mother's milk. The department will soon send a project to the Department of Science and Technology as the situation has become alarming," Dr Rani Devi said.