Wednesday, August 12, 2009

keeping the silence

"Method for stimulating the functional attributes of human milk oligosaccharides in formula-fed infants."
A recent title to a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office, patent # 7572474 owned by Mead Johnson Nutrtionals. Inventors of the formula are Bryon W. Petschow et al. Some of the inventors are from Great Britain and Finland. Petschow is the Director of External Affairs for Bristol Myers Squibb (Mead Johnson is part of Bristol Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical company).
Some statements of interest in the patent:
"Bifidobacterium spp. are also associated with resistance to gastrointestinal (GI) tract and respiratory infection as well as enhanced immune function in children and infants."
"Because cow's milk and commercially available infant formulas that are based on cow's milk provide only trace amounts of oliogosaccharides..."
"Briefly, therefore the present invention is directed to a novel method for stimulating the functional attributes of human milk oligosaccharides in a formula-fed infant, the method comprising administering a therapeutically effective amount of polydextrose (PDX) to the infant."
So why should we care about this patent? What does the infant formula industry know? They know their product is deficient and that they will have to "therapeutically" change their product in order to create a product that is resistant to diseases that effect the GI tract and the respiratory system of the infant. Sounds to me like we are talking about a pharmaceutical use of a food product. What will be their advertising slogans to get mothers to buy this product? And exactly why do we still believe that infant formula is a safe product in developed countries, when formula companies have to continue to improve their product in order to "try" to make it safer?
Of course, safety is not mentioned in this patent. But if resistance to infections is not the same in formula-fed infants, then it would seem logical to assume that formula-fed infants are sicker and their mortality rates are higher than breastfed infants. Why else "try" to imitate human milk?
I had correspondence some years ago with an MD regarding the safety of infant formula in the USA. This MD was not happy with my stance (not safe and never has been and never will be). I believe that this MD's belief was that because everyone had access to the greatest medical system in the world, any problems with formula could be rectified medically. Access....access to doctors and hospitals? many people uninsured now in the USA? Sometimes even with the best of care, infants the elderly they are our most vulnerable population. But the silence continues regarding the safety of infant formula because it is politically unacceptable to offend the infant formula industry (other than Nestle).
Copyright 2009 Valerie W. McClain

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