Wednesday, August 6, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Breastfeeding is our Inheritance

                "Globalized industrialized food is not cheap:  it is too costly
                  for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health.  The Earth 
                  can no longer carry the burden of ground water mining, 
                  pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization
                  of the climate.  Farmers can no longer carry the burden of
                  debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high 
                  costs of production.  It is incapable of producing safe, 
                  culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food.  And it is incapable
                  of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of 
                  land, water and energy.  Industrial agriculture uses ten times
                  more energy than it produces.  It is thus ten times less 
                  efficient."--Vandana Shiva

There is an ecological burden that we add to the Earth, when countries do little to promote, protect and encourage breastfeeding.  Instead the promotion and protection is extended to the infant formula industry. In a very unbalanced system, this industry can market its products directly to mothers and fathers using advertising techniques that promote their products while sabotaging breastfeeding.  This billion dollar industry influences our government, our educational institutions as well as the medical establishments through large donations.  They advertise on the internet, in magazines, and TV.  This very same industry owns human milk research.  They own it cause they bought it and staked a claim through their patents.  They wage marketing campaigns to silence breastfeeding advocacy.  And we live in such strange times that marketing has becomes truth and truth cannot be tolerated.  Out of fear that the truth creates shame and guilt, we are encouraged to omit the truth.  Some call that lies by omission.  Who benefits when we massage the message, speak and write unclearly about infant formula?  Well, let's watch how that billion dollar industry makes billions more.  But you know this isn't just about making money, its about a product that creates higher morbidity and mortality.  What other products do you know that can do this and still get the support of the average citizen? 

Breastfeeding is our rightful inheritance.  By breastfeeding, a baby is getting gulpfuls of their mother's DNA, a fresh and a live substance.  Formula is not a live substance and the DNA the baby receives is either cow or goat or some other mammal or sometimes a plant-soybean DNA.  This is why we talk about species specific milks.  The design of mammal milks is to benefit the particular species of mammal.  Cow's milk is designed to quickly create a big animal.  Human milk is designed for human brain function.  Should we be surprised about our obesity problem in children, when a majority of infants are ingesting cow's milk formulas at some point in their early lives.  The infant formula industry is now working on patents to make an infant formula that will resolve the obesity problem caused by their product.  Should we applaud the industry for solving a problem they created?  And actually the resolution of the obesity problem is breastfeeding not the creation of another untested product.

Some years ago I met a young mom who was breastfeeding her son despite some enormous difficulties.  I asked her why she continued to breastfeed despite all the obstacles placed in her life.  She told me that it was part of her religious belief and that breastfeeding was her children's rightful inheritance.  She could not even think of quitting.  I was impressed by her courage and her conviction to continue to breastfeed.  I met many women who overcame many difficulties to breastfeed over the years.  I was always impressed by how many mothers move mountains to make breastfeeding work for them.  As I have looked at so many patents on human milk components and how these patents study the DNA of these components, I find myself thinking that it is quite appropriate to view breastfeeding as one's inheritance.  You can inherit money and land but if you don't have your health (and we know that breastfeeding impacts your health not only as an infant but into adulthood) living your life will be a struggle.  Most people who suffer with health problems, would rather regain their health than be given money or gifts.

More patents...

Patent #8394370 entitled, "Nutritional formula for optimal gut barrier function," by inventors Clara Lucia Barcia-Rodinas et al. and filed in 2004.  Owned by Nestec (Nestle).

"During the postnatal development, the newborn intestine experiences a process of maturation that ends by the establishment of a functional barrier to macromaolecules and pathogenic bacteria.  This phenomenon is called gut closure and appears to be affected by diet.  Hence, differnt studies with infants (JPGN, 1995,21:383-6), and animal models (Pediatr Res, 1990, 28:31-7) show that maturation of the barrier is faster in breast-fed than in formula fed newborns.  This could explain the higher prevalence of allergy and infections in infants fed formula than in those fed with mother milk."

Patent #8293264 entitled, "Nutritional composition to promote healthy development and growth," invented by Francisco J. Rosales et al. and filed in 2009.  Owned by Mead Johnson. The patent states that Bifidobacterim spp. bacteria dominates the intestines of breastfed infants.  And while Bifidobacterim spp (not necessarily the same species as found in breastfed infants) is also in the intestines of formula-fed infants, there are also many pathogenic bacterium.

"Bifidobacteria are generally considered 'beneficial' bacteria and are known to protect against colonization by pathogenic bacteria."

"Bifidobacteria are also associated with resistance to gastrointestinal (GI) tract and respiratory infection as well as an enhanced immune function, especially in children and infants."

HM [Human Milk] oligosaccharides are believed to elicit an increase in the number of Bifidobacteria in the colonic flora, along with a reduction in the number of potentially pathogenic bacteria."

Patent # 8282927 entitled, "Immunoglobulin fraction and process thereof,"
invented by Andrew Brown et al, and filed in 2006.  Owned by Murray Goulburn Co-Operative Co. Limited (Australia).  This patent states that very little IgA present in cow's milk and their intent is to make an IgA enriched milk product.

"Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the dominant immunoglobulin in human secreetions, including breast milk and provides the body with protection against pathogens, binding to disease-causing viruses, bacteria, fungi and their toxins.  IgA provides infants essential protection against the aforementioned pathogens."

Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

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