Is Well Water Safe for Babies?

When thinking of water sources and separating good from bad, city water is usually the type labeled as less than stellar, while the alternative, well water, is often thought to be a clean and safe choice if no known ground contamination is present, but is that assumption misplaced?

Is well water safe for babies?

Sadly, even ground water that is delicious, pure, and safe for adult consumption can be dangerous to a formula-fed baby. Well water can contain naturally occurring contaminants including microorganisms, nitrates, radionuclide, radon, heavy metals, and fluoride.is well water safe baby

Nitrates:

The most commonly seen issue with well water safety in regards to infants is nitrate content. Nitrates are a natural byproduct of human and animal waste. They are also found naturally deposited in some soils and are commonly added to fertilizers as well. Excessive nitrate exposure can cause a form of blood poisoning in infants also known as Blue Baby Syndrome. Blue baby syndrome can be fatal if left untreated. A baby that has a blueish tint to his or her skin or shows other signs of poor oxygen saturation should see a doctor immediately. As nitrate exposure can also be dangerous in-utero, it’s recommended pregnant women have their well water tested.

Microorganisms:

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can also find their way into well water. In some cases, even adults can be affected by such contaminants causing symptoms ranging from severe food poisoning to mild digestional upset. Naturally, as infants often have weaker immune systems and less developed digestive systems, they are more prone to adverse effects.

Radionuclide and Radon:

These two are more commonly seen in areas where the soil has high concentrations of uranium or radium, both of which are naturally occurring.

Radionuclide and Radon have no immediate effects, but do increase the risk of certain types of cancer and very high exposure can cause kidney failure. This risk is increased in infants. Contaminated drinking water can also increase the levels of radon in your home’s air supply. Inhaled radon significantly increases the risk of lung cancer in both children and adults.

Heavy Metals:

A high concentration of heavy metals in well water is unusual, but can occur. The location of your well may increase these risks. Metals that are most commonly found in well water when contamination occurs include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, and selenium. Most of which are naturally occurring in soil.

Arsenic: Homes near older fruit orchards pose a higher risk of arsenic contamination. Effects include increased risk of various cancers, skin discoloration, blindness, paralysis, numbness of the feet and hands, and digestional and stomach upset. Arsenic can be fatal to a baby.

Cadmium: Found in natural deposits and also applicable to some industrial uses, cadmium can cause kidney damage with long-term consumption.

Chromium: Chromium is a naturally occurring element which is even found in the human body. It is harmless in small doses, and is even included in many vitamin supplements, but in high doses chromium can cause allergic dermatitis. As a baby’s body is far smaller than an adults, levels would not need to be as high to cause negative effects.

Copper: Copper is another naturally occurring element found in higher concentrations in some soils. Copper in small concentrations is harmless. Higher concentrations from soil or from piping in the home eroding could cause digestional and stomach upset.

Iron: Iron also occurs naturally or can find its way into drinking water from erosion of man-made structures. Iron, like copper, is safe and actually necessary in small doses. High concentrations of iron can cause depression, respiratory issues, coma, heat failure, and even death, however, these concentrations are nigh impossible in well water. Well water with iron content is actually considered to be beneficial as many pregnant women and children are prone to anemia or iron deficiency. It can cause some nasty sink and tub stains though. If you notice orange staining on your porcelain, you may have high iron.

Lead: Lead is most commonly introduced into drinking water as a result of eroding pipes in your home and not from the soil. Lead can cause serious developmental delays in infants and children. It may also cause kidney failure and high blood pressure in adults. This is mostly a concern in older homes.

Selenium: Yet another naturally occurring element, large doses of selenium can cause the loss of fingernails and hair, numbness in the hands and feet, and circulatory issues.

Fluoride: You may be wondering why this one makes the list as fluoride is often added to city water to promote dental health, but high levels of fluoride consumption can cause bone disease and teeth mottling in children (teeth stained white or brown in spots). Some research suggests it may also cause developmental issues. You might notice infant toothpaste is often fluoride free for this reason.

Long story short, while in most cases well water is perfectly safe for all ages—and often delicious—it’s always a good idea to have your water tested or retested if it has been awhile before formula feeding your baby with it. In many cases a simple home test kit is sufficient.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding: What You Should Know

It’s been a good while  since you had a nice cold sip (or warm if that’s how you take it) of alcohol–probably, oh, about 40 weeks, and now here you sit breastfeeding that adorable new baby thinking to yourself, “My wouldn’t a glass of wine be fine,” and then just as quickly, “Is alcohol and breastfeeding safe?”  The answer is sort of yes, drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can be done, but there are some things you should know.alcohol and breastfeeding

What do the doctors say about alcohol and breastfeeding?

“When a lactating woman consumes alcohol, some of that alcohol is transferred into the milk. In general, less than 2 percent of the alcohol dose consumed by the mother reaches her milk and blood. Alcohol is not stored in breast milk, however, but its level parallels that found in the maternal blood. That means that as long as the mother has substantial blood alcohol levels, the milk also will contain alcohol. Accordingly, the common practice of pumping the breasts and then discarding the milk immediately after drinking alcohol does not hasten the disappearance of alcohol from the milk as the newly produced milk still will contain alcohol as long as the mother has measurable blood alcohol levels.” from Alcohols Effect on Lactation by Julie Mennella Ph. D.

In translation, yes if you drink alcohol while breastfeeding it can end up in your baby’s system. “Pumping and dumping” meaning to pump your breast milk and then pour it out is a pointless measure, because the alcohol is not stored in the milk itself. The new milk that is produced after pumping will still contain alcohol. The contamination comes from your own blood.

However, a breastfeeding mother can enjoy a glass of wine as long as she allows sufficient time after consumption for the alcohol to be processed by her body.

How long after drinking alcohol should you wait to breastfeed?

standard drink breastfeeding alcohol
Examples of “one drink”

It takes one hour for one unit of alcohol to be processed by the body. One unit is the equivalent of a half pint of 3% beer, 25 mL of spirits (40%), or one 125 ML glass of your average wine. Keep in mind 125 mL is actually about 2/3 of your basic wine glass. Processing times can also vary by weight, height, liver function, and even what you’ve had to eat. Basically, think of the rules of driving after drinking and apply them to alcohol and breastfeeding.

What effects can consuming alcohol and breastfeeding have?

Studies show that drinking alcohol and breastfeeding can decrease milk supply. In addition, babies who regularly feed from mothers who consume alcohol on a daily basis exhibit decreased motor development, interrupted and shorter sleep patterns, and may have learning issues later on.

So, do alcohol and breastfeeding mix?

To sum it up, you can consume alcohol and breastfeed, however, regular consumption is not recommended as it can have adverse effects on your baby. If you do decide to drink alcohol and breastfeed, you need to wait before nursing. Basically one glass of wine with dinner won’t hurt your baby as long as you give it around two hours before breast feeding– Getting wasted every night, however, is not a good idea.

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Caffeine While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?

While 56 percent of the population consumes coffee on a regular basis, far more consume some sort of caffeine without even realizing it. Caffeine is a natural plant derivative found in a wide variety of products from pick-me-up favorites such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks to sweet-tooth delights such as chocolate. Its caffeine’s way of sneaking into some consumables mothers may not think about that makes understanding the effects of caffeine while breastfeeding important.

Does caffeine while breast feeding affect my baby?caffeine while breastfeeding safe

Caffeine does pass through breast milk to your baby. Current research suggests about 1 percent of the caffeine in your system passes to your baby while breastfeeding. When tested, breast milk showed the highest concentrations of caffeine one hour after consumption. This means unlike alcohol, it may not be effective to simply drink or consume caffeine and wait to breast feed unless the wait time was significantly longer. Caffeine enters the blood stream quickly, peaks at the one hour mark, and begins to dissipate after 3 to 7 hours, but remains in your body for 6 to 14 hours depending on the individual and amount consumed.

How much is too much caffeine while breastfeeding?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding mothers should not exceed 300 mg of caffeine a day. To give you a rough idea that’s around three 8 oz. cups of regular coffee or two 8 oz. milk chocolate bars. Exceeding this amount can affect your baby’s health negatively. Some studies have also found that caffeine in excess of 300 mg a day can alter the composition of breast milk reducing iron content by as much as one third.

What effects can caffeine while breastfeeding have on my baby?

Infants process caffeine far slower than adults, so with continued regular consumption via cross over from breast milk, levels can build in the body causing negative health effects such as:

-Sleep issues

-Irritability

-Hyperactivity

-Gastrointestinal upset including constipation or diarrhea

These affects are said to subside over time when caffeine levels dissipate. It takes the average newborn 160 hours to metabolize what an adult can in 14 hours. While the long-term effects of caffeine while breastfeeding have yet to be positively proven, some researchers have suggested high caffeine intake may also affect cardiovascular and neurological development.

Is it safe then, to consume caffeine while breast feeding?

It is safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding in moderate amounts not exceeding 300 mg a day. If in excess, you should wait at least 3 to 6 hours so caffeine levels have lowered in your blood stream.

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Alcohol and Breastfeeding: Is it safe?
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