Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New and improved infant formulas

I thought I would devote more time to patents owned by infant formula companies. They are quite eye-opening. One patent of interest is owned by Abbott/Ross and called "Nutritional formulations containing Lacto-N-neo Tetraose," invented by Prieto, et al. [Lacto-N--neo Tetraose is a component in human milk) filed in 1999.

"The growth of Bifidobacterium in the intestine of a baby is believed to be promoted by the physicochemical properties of human milk, particularly its high lactose content, which is a substrate for Bifidobacterium, its low protein content, and its low buffering capacity. Unfortuately, infant formula is believed to have a high buffering capacity which is not favorable for the growth of Bifidobacterium."

Bifidobacterium is believed to help inactivate pathogens and microbes.

There is a patent application this year by inventors Atul Singhal and Alan Lucas owned by the University College of London called, "newborn infant formulas and feeding methods." application number 20070254062

"We have found from our long term infant studies that rapid early growth, achieved in large part from nutrient enriched feedings from conventional infant formulas, may result in long term adverse health effects in individuals later in life, particularly with regard to long-term vascular health relevant to the development of atherosclerosis and to the later propensity to insulin resistance and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), while slow growth in newborn infants achieved in part from feeding human milk or formula with a modified carbohydrate, fat and protein caloric distributions (e.g., higher protein, lower caloric density), can have a beneficial effect in the form or reduced occurrence of markers of adult morbidity."

Hm...so now we know that "conventional infant formula has long-term health consequences." What is stunning to me is that for years the infant formula growth charts have been used to badger breastfeeding women into starting formula...because their babies didn't gain weight in a similiar pattern to those infants fed formulas. And now we are witnessing the realization by the scientific research community that that was a mistake. One of the inventors--Alan Lucas owns another patent on infant formula from the late 80's owned by Farley's. What is troubling regarding these patents is that the research community on infant feeding thinks that somehow man can eventually create a safe substitute for mother's milk. The premise of making a safer and better infant formula is laid on a foundation made of sand. We have something that is known to be safe and of great benefit to the baby and the mother. Shouldn't our investment be in creating an environment supportive of breastfeeding? Instead our research community is investing in the continuous creation of the new and improved infant formulas.

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