Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Infant formula patents and allergies

What to believe? Breastfeeding does or does not prevent allergies? Why would Kramer et al in the recent PROBIT study on allergies see no difference in allergies between infants whose moms were encouraged to breastfeed longer and exclusively and infants whose moms were not encouraged. Maybe because the differences between the two groups was minimal? Differences would be subtle because essentially all mothers were doing both breastfeeding and bottlefeeding-some more breastfeeding, some less. I thought it might be of interest to quote from some patents regarding allergy and infant feeding.
Patent #5591446 published at the US Patent & Trademark Office in 1997 is called, "Methods & agents for the prophylaxis of atopy." owned by Beiersdorf AG (a multinational company in Denmark that produces and sells cosmetics-Nivea-and personal care, wound care items).
"By the 1920"s, it was recognized that early childhood nutrition plays an important role in preventative medicine. R.S. Zeiger et al; in "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology," 78 (1 Part2):224-238 (1986) stated that breastfeeding in combination with a delay in supply of solid nutrients is suitable to alleviate atopic dermatitis and food allergies in early childhood."
But that is a cosmetic company and maybe they don't understand the recent science in which breastfeeding has no effect on allergies? Hm...Let's look at a Nestle patent (#7230078) published in 2007 called "Soluble toll-like receptor," by inventors Eduardo Schifferin. They have claims on a human milk component (soluble toll-like receptor). "Their" human milk component will, "provide for prophylaxis, prevention, treatment or therapy of inflammatory conditions or allergic reactions in a mammal..." Mammals, I guess that would include us, humans. Nestle is using a human milk component against allergies....confusing, eh? How can that be?
Patent Application 20080125346 called "Infant Formula" by Beermann et al, owned by NV Nutricia (European infant formula company) pulbished in 2008. They state, " The present nutritional composition is particularly suited for feeding infants as it mimics the protective effects of human milk, in particular against allergies and infections." Both Nutricia and Nestle seem to think that human milk has some sort of protective effect.
Patent Application 20080139499 called, "Beta-Serum Dairy Products, Neutral Lipid-Depleted and/or Polar Lipid-Enriched Dairy Products, and Processes for Their Production," invented by Katrina Fletcher et al and owned by Fonterra Cooperative Group/New Zealand (Dairy company that was touched by the melamine scandal in China)
They say, "Research over the last 5-10 years has shown that increasing phospholipid and (glyco) sphingolipid levels in infant formulations to levels found in human milk may lead to enhanced gut maturation thereby reducing the risk of infection; prevention of infections by modifying gut intestinal flora and competitively binding antigens, prevention of allergies, and optimal neural development."
It looks like the infant formula industry is trying to imitate human milk in order to reduce the risk of allergy. Rather odd considering the media's reporting of Kramer's studies in which we are to believe that breastfeeding does not make a difference in allergies. What does the public prefer to believe? It would seem odd that patents are saying one thing but media reports on research says something different.
In April of 2008, "a symposium at the American Society for Nutritions' annual meeting at Experimental Biology was held in which noted scientists discussed new infant feeding studies..."
Kramer presented his evidence regarding the PROBIT study and obesity--breastfeeding had no effect. Not surprising that the finding showed no effect--same data from the original PROBIT study where all babies did breastfeed and bottlefeed (some breastfeed exclusively and longer but by 6 months of age all babies seemed to be bottlefeeding more than breastfeeding)
The conference was sponsored by the IFC (international formula council) which includes Abbott, Mead Johnson, Nestle, and Wyeth. PR by Kellen Communications.
So what do you believe and why???????
Copyright 2009 Valerie W. McClain, IBCLC

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