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"This is an important public health benefit of breastfeeding."
The nation's top pediatric association calls breastfeeding the "healthiest start" for infants, and a new study reaffirms that position over formula as well.
Research from Dartmouth College found that arsenic levels were more than seven times higher in formula-fed babies than breastfed ones. The study published in the journal Environment Health Perspective was the first in the U.S. to study urinary arsenic in babies, a news release about the research said.
Though arsenic in home tap water was a source of the naturally occurring chemical, which can be poisonous in large doses, the formula itself was a contributing factor as well, according to the news release.
"This study's results highlight that breastfeeding can reduce arsenic exposure even at the relatively low levels of arsenic typically experienced in the United States," lead author Kathryn Cottingham said in a statement. "This is an important public health benefit of breastfeeding."
Though arsenic is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency in public water sources, the study's senior author Margaret Karagas suggested that people with private wells should have their water tested for the chemical.
"We predict that population-wide arsenic exposure will increase during the second part of the first year of life as the prevalence of formula-feeding increases," Karagas said in a statement.
In addition to reducing arsenic exposure, a separate study recently touted that breastfed infants were less likely to develop pet allergies and that it helped shape other aspects of the baby's immune system.
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