Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Formula is the last choice for feeding babies pt. 1

The WHO (World Health Organization) states that the most nutritious way to feed a baby is:
1. Breastfeeding
2. Pumped breastmilk
3. Using donor breastmilk
4. Formula

They have good reason to make formula a last resort. For starters, this was recently in the news.

According to FDA data for tests of 77 infant formula samples, a trace concentration of melamine was detected in one product — Mead Johnson's Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron. An FDA spreadsheet shows two tests were conducted on the Enfamil, with readings of 0.137 and 0.14 parts per million.

Three tests of Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron detected an average of 0.247 parts per million of cyanuric acid, a melamine byproduct.

-FDA finds traces of melamine in US infant formula By MARTHA MENDOZA and JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press Writers

To read the whole article, go to

Formula companies are marketing geniuses and they portray images of formula fed babies as healthy. While formula is not a prescription for poor health, it certainly has a lot of risks that I for one am not willing to take.

Lets look at some studies.

Formula feeding increases baby girls' risk of developing breast cancer in later life. Women who were formula-fed as infants have higher rates of breast cancer as adults. For both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, women who were breastfed as children, even if only for a short time, had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who were bottle-fed as infants.

Freudenheim, J. et al. 1994 "Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer". Epidemiology 5:324-331

Breast cancer is so prevalent that I would not willing introduce anything into my daughter's bodies that may up the risk.

People have argued that formula doesn't increase the risk of diabetes, so here are several studies linking development of insulin dependant Type I diabetes (formerly referred to as "juvenile diabetes") to lack of breastfeeding. The results of a study from Finland suggest that the introduction of dairy products at an early age, and high milk consumption during childhood increase the level of cow's milk antibodies in the children's systems. This factor is associated with an increased risk of insulin dependent diabetes. Now a new study has indicated that breastfeeding in infancy may help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This sort of diabetes was formerly referred to as "adult onset" diabetes, but has been mysteriously occurring in more and more youngsters.

Young, T.K. et al. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2002; 156(7): 651-55

Gerstein HC. "Cow's milk exposure and type 1 diabetes mellitus". Diabetes Care. 1994;17:13-19

Virtanen et al: "Diet, Cow's milk protein antibodies and the risk of IDDM in Finnish children." Childhood Diabetes in Finland Study Group. Diabetologia, Apr 1994, 37(4):381-7

Virtanen SM, Rasanen L, Aro A, et al. "Infant feeding in Finnish children <7 yr of age with newly diagnosed IDDM" Diabetes Care, 1991;14:415-417

Another big bad is that formula increases a baby's risk of SIDS. There are a number of studies showing a possible link between lack of breastfeeding and SIDS. A Swedish study has found that babies who were breastfed exclusively for less than 8 weeks had a 3 - 5 times greater risk of dying from SIDS than babies who were breastfed exclusively for four months

Horn, RS et al "Comparison of evoked arousability in breast and formula fed infants." 2004 Arch Dis Child.; 89(1):22-25

Alm et al, "Breastfeeding and the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in Scandanavia." June 2002 Arch of Dis in Child. 86: 400-402.

McVea, KL et al "The role of breastfeeding in sudden infant death syndrome." J Hum Lact. 2000;16:13-20

Fredrickson, DD et al., "Relationship between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Breastfeeding Intensity and Duration." Am. Journal of Diseases in Children, 1993: 147:460

Ford RPK, et al ."Breastfeeding and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome." International Journal of Diseases in Children, 1993, 22(5):885-890

Taylor BJ, Mitchell EA, et al. "Breastfeeding and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Int J. Epidemiol. 1993;22:885-890

Scragg LK, Mitchell EA, Tonkin SL, et al. "Evaluation of the cot death prevention programme in South Auckland." NZ Med J. 1993;106:8-10

I know that this post is very footnote heavy, but I think it's important to back up what I am saying.

Formula fed babies have a higher risk of developing certain childhood cancers. In a study done by researchers at the University of Minnesota it was found that babies who were breast fed for at least one month had a 21% less chance of getting leukemia than formula fed babies. The risk was 30% for children breast fed for 6 months.

Shu X-O, et al. "Breastfeeding and the risk of childhood acute leukemia". J Natl Cancer Inst 1999; 91: 1765-72

The choice is clear to me, I would never choose formula. Mother's that do choose formula for convienence, say they don't want their boobs to sag (a myth by the way, boobs sag due to heredity not breastfeeding), need to educate themselves. It saddens me that in this day and age formula is still commonplace.

I leave you with my favorite quote.

When we trust the makers of baby formula more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies, we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women. Thinking that baby formula is as good as breast milk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature's evolution. Countless women have regained trust in their bodies through nursing their children, even if they weren't sure at first that they could do it. It is an act of female power, and I think of it as feminism in its purest form. ----- Christine Northrup M.D.

Stay tuned for part two of my formula rant.

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