Thursday, August 14, 2008

HIV & Breastfeeding--part 8

photo by Jessie McClain
"Although humans are at continuous risk of infection by microbial pathogens, most survive these repeated onslaughts by mounting rapid responses that utilize a variety of antimicrobial proteins and small polypeptides."
This quote is from a patent filed by Agennix, a company in Texas that genetically engineers human lactoferrin (a component of human milk) for use as an antibiotic. The patent was filed in 2002 and called "Antimicrobial/endotoxin neutralizing polypeptide." Those who synthetically manufacture or genetically engineer what is made naturally in the body, seem to have lost hope that nature will resolve the infection. In fact we seem to live in a society that believes that nature doesn't work right or fast enough to suit the needs of a modern world. We imitate a small component of the natural world and make lots of it. Of course, nature does not work that way, so there is always repercussions.
For centuries prior to the manufacturing of baby milks, breastfeeding meant survival. We have always lived in a world teeming with microbes/pathogens and the survival of our young was dependent upon a mother's ability to breastfeed her babies. With the manufacturing of baby milks, the need for a sterile environment becomes critical for the survival of the infant. Baby milks have to be sterile liquids--without life. Survival of humanity becomes dependent on a world without living microbes/pathogens. And there are repercussions. The human body was designed to survive among microbes. Sterile environments mean that the human body does not work optimally. Prebiotics and probiotics are now being marketed because antibiotics in the body create a sterile environment ripe for the next pathogen. Medical science has begun to realize that it is the beneficial microbes that create health. When we sterilize our environment, we kill the pathogens but we also kill the beneficial microbes. Breastfeeding is designed to selectively target the pathogens in the mother/baby environment while building a beneficial microbial environment in the gut of the infant. There is no sterility, no lack of life. The use of infant formula is premised on the belief that man can create something as good or better than human milk and that breastfeeding is unnecessary in a wealthy world. We will liberate women from being slaves to their bodies. Interestingly, men are never interested in being liberated from the slavery of their bodies. But we, women, need to be liberated from our bodies--from birth, from breastfeeding. We will let men design and create birth and nutrition for infants. We will let institutions bring up those infants and this will create a better world. Let's look around us and see the ramifications of this belief (few births in the US are without interventions, few babies are exclusively breastfed and more and more children spend enormous chunks of time without either parent). I see alot of mentally and physically unhealthy children. What do you see?
Our society believes that we can do without breastfeeding and that we can export that viewpoint to other countries around the world. Medical science thinks the solution to pathogen/hiv transmission from mother-to-child is to prevent breastfeeding. Should we be surprised about the number of infants of hiv-positive mothers in Africa who died while being formula-fed versus the survival of infants exclusively breastfed? We believe that if we could eradicate poverty, then formula feeding would be safe. But is that a truth?
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

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