Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inventing a better infant formula to reduce adverse effects

"It has been demonstrated that breast-fed newborns have a lower incidence of intestinal infections, intestinal inflammatory conditions, lower incidence of respiratory infections and later in life, less allergic disease."

Patent #723078 owned by Nestec SA [Nestle] entitled "Soluble toll-like receptor," filed in 2002

Say what?? Wait a minute, wasn't the US Breastfeeding Ad Campaign in 2003 watered down because the infant formula industry and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) expressed concern about the validity of the science regarding the risks of infant formula? Yet, Nestle within a patent is explaining why they need to improve infant formula. Nestle found a soluble toll-like receptor. Although we, breastfeeding advocates, may choke upon the following statement in this patent, "In still a further embodiment, the polypeptide according to the invention is derived from human breast milk or identical to a milk derived variant." So what conclusion can we draw from this? Publicly, in the US the science on risks of infant formula are not open for discussion. Privately, the industry will own and monopolize off those risks to improve infant formula. Thus public discussions about risks of infant formula in the USA are "off the table." Instead the discussions are reconfigured and stated as the risks of not breastfeeding. Didn't know there were risks to breastfeedings. Oh yeah, like the risks of walking or talking, biology is scary. Heaven forbid we make clear statements or look at patents to understand what the infant formula industry knows that the public is not allowed to know. Yes, that is what patenting is about, monopolization of "invention" which is ultimately the monopolization of knowledge.
Let's leave Nestle for a moment and go on to other infant formula companies (yes, other companies do exist besides Nestle). Lets look at N.V Nutricia of the Netherlands. This is another infant formula company in Europe. Their recent US patent application called, "Immune stimulatory infant nutrition." (application # 20100136134) They state, "The composition reduces--among others--the risks attached to feeding whey dominant infant formula." and "Human milk has for example been shown that human milk protects against infection and allergies."
Or better yet lets look at a US infant formula company, Mead Johnson and their statements in patent #7862808 called, "Method for preventing or treating respiratory infections and acute otitis media in infant using Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and Bifdobacterium lactis B6-12,"

"In a meta-analysis of data from multiple studies, results indicate that breastfeeding may have a positive effect on the frequency of both infant respiratory infection and AOM.[acute otitis media] Specifically, one study indicated that the feeding of many currently available infant formulas may be associated with a 3.6-fold increase in risk of infant hospitalization for respiratory infection when compared to at least four months of exclusive breastfeeding. Bachrach, V., et al., Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 57:237-43 (2003). Additionally, infants who are breastfed have been shown to have significantly fewer (about 50%) episodes of AOM than do infants who are exclusively formula-fed. Duffy, et al., Pediatr. 100(4):E7 (1997). These differences may be attributed to the fact that human milk promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Duffy, et al., Dig. Dis. Sci. 44(8):1499-1505 (1999). "
Wow, I think they are saying that human milk is probiotic. Let me understand why breastfed babies are being given probiotics? They are deficient...deficient because they aren't breastfed enough?? Or maybe cause mothers don't know where probiotics comes from?
Then there is formula maker Wyeth LLC (which is now part of Pfizer). Their patent filed in 2005 is called, "Methods for reducing adverse effects of feeding formula to infants," patent # 7651716. "In some embodiments the administration of the infant formula compositions of the present invention reduces or eliminated side effects." The side effects are listed as, "eructation, constipation, gastroesophogel reflux disease, flatulence, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and regurgitation."
So the continual patenting of infant formula is because there are adverse effects in infants who are fed artificial milks. The politics of infant feeding mean that in the US we will continue to believe that there are no risks to infant formula in developed countries, only risks in developing nations. What should be shocking and galvanizing to the health care community is that in order to reduce those adverse effects, the infant formula industry uses human milk components (in most cases genetically engineered) to reduce the adverse effects. Meanwhile, the US public is kept in the dark and will continue to buy a product that has adverse effects, RISKS. Kinda reminds me of the Tobacco Industry. Hide the real research, advertise like crazy, and give great gifts to the medical community.
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain

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