DDT can interfere with the feedback loop in the pituitary gland, which releases the milk-producing hormone prolactin. Studies show that exposure to DDT at critical points in pregnancy or just after childbirth can reduce the output of breast milk, or even dry it up. In such instances the mother will turn to formula, which is expensive. And in Africa formula feeding often leads to another death sentence for babies: diarrhea (infants have no immunity to the microbes that abound in contaminated drinking water throughout much of the continent). Here, then, exposure to DDT may cause as swift and bleak an outcome as exposure to a mosquito.
On Earth is a publication of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).