Breastfeeding and Chemicals in Drinking Water

Last Update: June 23, 2016

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that babies be fed only breast milk for the first six months of their lives, and continue on breast milk for at least the next six months. Human breast milk has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that a baby needs and it is much easier for a baby to digest breast milk than infant formula. Breast milk helps protect a baby from infections such as colds. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of allergies; obesity; and illnesses such as ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory infections. It also helps strengthen the bond between a mother and her baby.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “breastfeeding is still recommended despite the presence of chemical toxins” because “for the vast majority of women the benefits of breastfeeding appear to far outweigh the risks.”

Consistent with U.S. EPA guidelines, DOH recommends that breastfeeding women and other consumers be provided with options for alternative drinking water sources when their drinking water exceeds the EPA’s health advisory for PFOA and PFOS to reduce their exposure. If you have more questions about breastfeeding you should speak with your healthcare provider.

For More Information

State Health Department Drinking Water Response Activities

Water Quality Hotline: 800-801-8092 (Monday - Friday: 9 am - 8 pm; Saturday: 9 am - 3 pm)

For specific questions about potential health effects:

  • Email:, phone: 518-402-7800 (Monday - Friday: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm), or write: State Health Department, Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment, Corning Tower, Room 1743, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237