Tuesday, August 5, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Breastfeeding is a "safety net"

                     "Breastfeeding is a natural safety net against the
                      worse effects of poverty." --James P. Grant, former
                      Executive Director of UNICEF

I have always felt that the above quotation was very important as well as insightful.  Access to nutritious food is essential for well-being and can be a life or death situation for infants.  Poverty can mean that access to nutritious foods is extremely limited. It takes money and resources (transportation, fuel, safe water) to formula fed a baby.  Lack of money or resources jeopardizes the well-being of infants fed artificial formulas.  Mothers may limit the amounts of formula or water-down the formula, jeopardizing the infant's health and well-being. Exclusive breastfeeding saves money because there are no costs to the mother, other than an investment in time spent breastfeeding.  Infant feeding choice is a luxury designed for those who have adequate resources to cover the cost of formula feeding and the medical care that is needed because formula fed infants are at higher risk for diarrhea, upper and lower respiratory infections, pneumonia, diabetes, obesity, SIDs, etc. 

In the USA, we have the WIC Program that provides infant formula for low income mothers, who choose to use it.  Since it is a supplemental nutrition program, most participants find that they have to buy more infant formula out of pocket.  One state WIC website declares that moms should be prepared to spend $30 per month for the first 12 months.  WIC does provide breastfeeding education and breastfeeding peer counselors.  While low income mothers can get free infant formula from the WIC Program, they still have to pay out of pocket because it is only a supplemental program.  Which creates an element of risk because these moms may feel compelled to limit infant formula given or water down infant formula (a dangerous practice that can led to death of an infant if not caught in time).

The reason many low income mothers do not breastfeed at all or longer than 6 weeks is the need to be employed to pay for housing, food, and transportation.  Depending on her educational background and experience, she may have to exist on minimum wage jobs which often do not offer nursing breaks or time to pump.  Thus, many of the low income moms I worked with to help breastfeed, were financially compelled to quit breastfeeding early.  And some moms, told me that because they were going back to work so early they didn't want to become too attached to their babies through breastfeeding. A sad statement about being a low-income mom and the obstacles to breastfeeding in our society.  Breastfeeding can be a natural safety net against poverty, if our society created practices that supported breastfeeding.  

More patents...

Patent #4977137 entitled, Lactoferrin as a dietary ingredient promoting the growth of the gastrointestinal tract."  Filed in 1987 with inventors Nichols et al. and owned by Baylor College of Medicine.  This is the infamous Pharm Woman patent in which the European Greens protested and had the European patent application revoked.  The US and Australian applications became patents.

"A substantial growth of the intestines of newborn animals takes place in the first one to three days after birth.  For example in newborn pigs who are nursed by the mother there is substantial growth, approximately eight to ten inches of the intestines of the infant within the first few days after birth.  In a large number of human newborns, who are not nursed by the mother but are placed on an infant's formula, this growth of the gastrointestinal tract during the first few days may not occur, and, as a result, the infant is predisposed to chronic intractable diarrhea which must be managed for a period of three or more months at considerable expense and discomfort to the infant."

Patent # 8498729 entitled, "Manufacturing execution system for use in manufacturing infant formula," filed in 2009 invented by Shane M. Popp and owned by SMP Logic Systems, LLC.

"The key to successful formula design is to match as closely as possible the physical and nutritional properties of breast milk."

"Baby formula is a synthetic version of mother's milk and belongs to a class of materials known as dairy substitutes."

"In the United States alone, the infant formula industry is a $3 billion a year business, with another $1 billion in sales outside of the United States."

Patent # 8518894 entitled, "Human Milk Peptides," invented and owned by James Kenneth Friel and Apolinaire Tsopmo and filed in 2010.  The human milk peptides are to be used in food supplements, milk substitutes, infant formula, mother's milk, cell/tissue/organ storage, perfusion solutions, and pharmaceutical formulations.

"The present invention relates to the discovery of 27 novel peptides derived from human milk."

"Infants fed with human milk are found to gain protection against necrotizing entercolitis and have fewer upper respiratory tract infections and system infections."

"There is therefore, a need for new compounds derived from human milk that provide antioxidant advantages and may be used as ingredients to mother's milk substitutes."

This patent also states that their invention can be used to manufacture new formulations of TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) "to prevent the photo-oxidation of TPN components."

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain


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