Thursday, August 7, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014: Artificial feeding is risky

                             "Artificial feeding is risky.  This basic fact upsets people
                      who feel insulted if they or their mothers did not
                      breastfeed but most women do not 'choose' how they
                      feed their babies:  they do what their culture and 
                      society expects." --Gabrielle Palmer, The Politics of
                      Breastfeeding:  When Breasts are Bad for Business

In our society is infant feeding really choice or cultural expectation?  Gabrielle Palmer's book unveils our presumptions about infant feeding.  Reading and rereading her book, I continue to learn from it.  I heard her speak many years ago and went out and bought her book.  Shared the book and never got it back.  Bought an updated and revised edition and it is so worn that I think I need another copy.  

I just finished reading an article in the Washington Post entitled, "I fed my newborns formula to keep them alive.  Still, I felt guilty about it," by Darlena Cunha.  I must say that the media has outdone itself in creating articles during World Breastfeeding Week that are unsupportive of breastfeeding.  How can a breastfeeding advocate respond to such an article?  But a response is needed.

The author states that she learned, "Good mothers, I learned, breastfed.  Lazy mothers don't."  Where did she learn this?  I remember meeting with breastfeeding mothers and we were all talking about how we were lazy and how breastfeeding fit into our lazy lifestyles.  Meaning it takes a lot of work to bottle feed babies.  Sterilizing bottles, cleaning bottles and nipples, making sure that everything is done as safely and correct as possible is no easy task.  Breastfeeding one simply puts the baby to breast, no fuss, no kitchen clean-up.  Where did she get this notion that lazy mothers formula feed?  Lightbulb goes off in my head, as I read further in the article about a survey taken by Baby Talk Magazine in which "33% of breastfeeding mothers called their formula-feeding counterparts lazy and selfish."  I don't particularly have much faith in media surveys, particularly when the media is supported by infant formula advertising.  Surveys can be set up to be slanted.  And what better way to create the "mommy wars."

Then the author of this article states that this idea that women must breastfeed is echoed in "scary" media stories about stores pulling formula off the shelves after a baby died of a bacterial infection.  I believe there was a recall--meaning in the interest of public safety the product was removed off the shelves.  The bacterial infection is called Cronobacter sakazakii and infants who contract this bacteria (known scientifically to reside in powdered infant formula)  have a 40%-80% risk of dying or being brain damaged.  Scary story?  Or scary reality? 

The article goes on to state that "when breastfeeding adult medications must be stopped so that the effects don't reach the infants via the mothers' milk."  There are very few medications that need to be stopped. ("It is currently known, that most medications have few side effects in breastfeeding infants because the dose transferred via milk is almost always too low to be clinically relevant, or it is poorly bioavailable to the infant."--Thomas Hale, PhD, "Medications and Mothers' Milk)

The author goes on to tell the story of a mother who was talked into breastfeeding by a well-meaning nurse.  So in reality this woman did not want to breastfeed.  Finally, a health professional told her to stop breastfeeding.  This is an example of how choice is often controlled by who is believed to have the power in your life. The mother felt forced to choose breastfeeding because a medical person decided for her.  And then she had to wait for a medical person to tell her she could quit.  This is an example of a mother who has lost her autonomy and power to the medical establishment.  We shouldn't be surprised that breastfeeding didn't work out.  Or that the mother feels badly.  The decision to breastfeed or not is far more important than our society recognizes.  Who should control that decision-making process?  The mother.  A mother that let's others make her decision has lost her autonomy and depression is often the end result.  Depression often leads to blame placed on the wrong people or the wrong institutions.  

This article is a very thoughtless article and I am surprised that the Washington Post published it.  It is an article that misinforms readers and perpetuates myths regarding breastfeeding and breastfeeding advocacy.

More patents...

Patent # 6232094 entitled, "DNA encoding human .kappa. casein and process for obtaining protein," filed in 1995.  Invented by Lennart Hansson et al. and owned by Symbicom Aktiebolag (Sweden).  This invention is about a DNA sequence encoding the human milk protein .kappa.-casein.

"Thus infant formula, often prepared on the basis of cow milk, is generally incompletely digested by the infant, and is lacking substances known to have effect on the physiological funtions of the infant.  In order to obtain an infant formula with a nutritional value similar to human milk, a number of additives including proteins, protein fragments, vitamins, minerals etc., which are normally formed or taken up during the infant's digestion of human milk are included in the formula with the consequent risk of posing an increased strain on and possible long-term damage of important organs such as liver and kidney. Another disadvantage associated with the use of cow milk-based formulae is the increased risk for inducing allergy in the infant against bovine proteins."

Patent #5741957 entitled "Transgenic bovine," filed in 1995.  Inventors are Hermon A. Deboer et al. and owned by Pharming B.B. of the Netherlands.  For those who don't know what transgenic means, "an organism whose genome has been altered by the transfer of a gene or genes from another species."

"Further, it is apparent that a need exists for methods for producing transgenic bovine species which are capable of producing recombinant polypeptides such as human milk proteins and human serum proteins in the milk os such transgenic animals."

"Still further, it is an object herein to provide food formulations supplemented with recominant polypeptides from such transgenic milk such as human infant formula supplements with human lactoferrin."

This is the company that created Herman, the bull.  The following website is an article about the creation of a herd of transgenic cows in Blackburg, Virginia back in 1999.  There are many other herds now.  The transgenic cows in Virginia were not initially separated from normal cows. 

Patent # 7914822 entitled, "Method of producing nutritional products from human milk tissue and compositions thereof," and filed in 2009.  The inventor is Elena Maria Medo and owned by Prolacta Bioscience.

"Artificial baby milk, predominantly based on cow's milk, have been prepared and used to nourish an infant, but there is increasing evidence that infants fed artificial baby milks suffer long-term ill consequences."

"It has been known for a long time by physicians, scientists and nutritionists that the best food or nutrition supplied to an infant is its own mothers' milk, ie., fresh human milk."

"Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a standardized source of human milk that can be modified to reflect the various stages of lactation and various immune responses."

The human milk industry, Prolacta in this patent, recognizes that fresh human milk (note that they don't say breastfeeding) is the best source of food for babies.  Yet there product is not fresh, it is frozen with additives.  The beauty of human milk is that it is not standardized, it is individualized.   Breastfeeding is the competitor for this industry as well as the infant formula industry.  Both recognize and state that some women can't or won't breastfeed, so we must buy their products.
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain

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