Monday, December 7, 2015

Burned at the Stake: HIV & Breastfeeding Policy in the USA

"Modern Medicine can't survive without our faith, because Modern Medicine is neither an art nor a science.  It's a religion." Dr. Robert Mendelson, "Confessions of a Medical Heretic"

Is medicine science or science fiction? I certainly don't view it as art.  Medicine appears to me to be a war against the human body.  We have our wars, the war against cancer.  And we haven't won that war.  War against drugs, but that war is only against people who take street drugs not prescribed drugs.  Violence is part of our social system.    Violence is a part of our medicine.  The cure often worse than the disease.  Kinda like the cure for witchcraft back in the 1500's, torture, burning at the stake, prolonged agony and eventually death. Our medicines either cure you or maim and kill ya.  In the future will people look back at this time in human medical history and shake their heads in disbelief?

I started questioning in 1999 policies regarding hiv and breastfeeding.  And the more studies I read on hiv and breastfeeding, the more I found the science questionable.  In 1985 the CDC recommended that hiv positive mothers avoid breastfeeding.  This recommendation has morphed into no breastfeeding in the USA for hiv-positive mothers. The cited evidence by the CDC and subsequent studies is to Ziegler et al, Postnatal transmission of AIDS-associated retrovirus from mother to infant. Lancet. 1985;i:896-898.  Ziegler et al was "a" case study in which a healthy mother was transfused due to blood loss during delivery of her 3rd child.  One unit of that blood was from a male who developed AIDS 13 months later.  The transfusion was after delivery and therefore it was presumed that transmission occurred through breastfeeding.  The mother breastfed for 6 weeks only and baby at 3 months showed "antibodies to AIDS virus."  Mother developed lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes).  Blood transfusions can cause lymphadenopathy but also  is considered an early symptom of hiv "infection."  Testing of infants for hiv is through PCR testing (HIV-1 DNA) because it is considered more reliable than ELISA or Western Blot. PCR was invented in 1983 by Karl Mullis (who won a Nobel prize in chemistry for this invention).  But it wasn't until 1986 that the Cetus company (John Sninsky inventor/scientist) announced that they had a test for hiv and publication of this invention was not until 1987.  Since PCR diagnosis was not invented when this case study was reported, then one most suppose that some kind of antibody test was done on this infant.  And we know that antibody tests like the ELISA and Western Blot are not considered reliable in infants because infants carry maternal antibodies for up to 18 months or longer.  The Ziegler case study shows what exactly?  Transmission by blood transfusion to the mother.   Transfusions are known to cause immune suppression that may last as long as years.  Was the mother infected with the AIDS virus through the blood transfusions she had or was her immune system suppressed and her lymphadenopathy caused by the blood transfusions she needed after her c-section?  We know that hiv antibody tests can have false positives (over 60 known medical reasons for a false positive reading-one of those medical reasons is blood transfusions).

Later studies that supposedly showed that hiv was transmitted through breastfeeding, were studies that did not define breastfeeding and most women were doing mixed feeding.  Some researchers of these studies were funded by the infant formula industry.  How does mixed feeding prove that transmission was through breastfeeding? How do we prove transmission, when infants carry their mother's antibodies up to and beyond 18 months of age.  Thus infants of hiv positive mothers could test positive for hiv for a year and a half and then naturally lose those antibodies.  Strange how antibodies to a disease used to mean that someone was protected from a disease.  But nowadays if you have antibodies to hiv, that means you are infected.  Breastfeeding is all about the production of antibodies to protect infants from bacterium, viruses, parasites and fungi.  So finding antibodies to hiv is infection or protection?  Science has been turned upside-down.  If having antibodies to a disease is protection then formula-fed infants lack the antibodies to protect them from hiv/aids. There is a saying that breastfeeding is nature's vaccine.  Why does hiv antibodies, unlike other diseases, prove infection, particularly when the person with the antibodies is not sick?  These questions have continued to bother me over the years.  We have a disease that does not follow the normal rules of an infectious disease.  In fact the spread of this disease does not follow epidemiological views of how infections spread through a population.  This is a disease that is concentrated in the gay community and African American communities in the US--mostly concentrated in males (90%) not females. And in Africa it appears in both males and females equally.  An infectious disease that changes its character from one continent to another? Does measles or chicken pox act like this?  I know it's a retrovirus.  Yet there is controversy over this particular retrovirus, since retroviruses don't usually infect people with disease.   

Karl Mullis, inventor of PCR, questioning the statements that hiv causes aids. 

Much to consider and wonder about regarding hiv/aids.  And a lot of confusing statements made by governmental officials and expertsHiv and breastfeeding has what I consider the most confusing of policiesIt has been for years a two-pronged policy.  If you live in the developed countries you are actively discouraged from breastfeeding.  If you live in a developing country you are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed.  There is no real choice for hiv positive mothers, when dealing with health authorities.  What we get from this two-pronged policy is some mothers in developed nations who wish to breastfeed because of its health benefits and some mothers in developing nations who wish to use infant formula because of its supposedly safety against transmitting the virus.  When you have a two-pronged policy dependent on wealth, then some mothers wonder about the discriminatory nature of that policy based on wealth.  The WHO organization in 2010 changed its policy on hiv and breastfeeding encouraging all mothers in all countries to exclusively breastfeed in combination with antiretroviral medication.

This WHO policy change is dependent upon each individual nation.  In the US, policy on breastfeeding and hiv has not changed.  Meaning if you are diagnosed as hiv positive, the CDC still does not recommend breastfeeding.  (last updated June 2015) 

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement in 2013 states the following, "Because the only intervention to completely prevent HIV transmission via human milk is not to breastfeed, in the United States, where clean water and affordable replacement feeding are available the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that HIV-infected mothers not breastfeed their infants, regardless of maternal viral load and antiretroviral therapy." 
This appears to be a version of AFASS international policy that has been replaced, that if formula is acceptible, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe, then hiv positive mothers should use infant formula. I would debate the belief by the AAP that there is consistent access to clean water everywhere in the US.  Those living in poverty may rely on wells which are often contaminated.  And there are newspaper articles of chemical spills and contamination in rivers that impact numerous communities water supplies.  I would also debate the affordability of infant formula, a product that is one of the most stolen food items around the world.  Infant formula is not environmentally sustainable and its safety could be debated.

In the state of Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services under child safety issues, 4432 Mother with AIDS or HIV Is Breastfeeding states, "If a mother with AIDS or HIV is breastfeeding, the intake specialist completes a P1(Priority 1) intake with an allegation of neglectful supervision (NSUP)."

Thus a mother who is diagnosed with hiv or aids and breastfeeds in Texas will have Child Protective Services (CPS) at her door.  I imagine that breastfeeding with a hiv diagnosis in the USA would trigger a CPS visit in most US states.  International policy on hiv and breastfeeding does not supercede national policy.  Is this a fair and just policy?  Not to my way of thinking.  US moms diagnosed with hiv need to understand what they are up against. One should never take a CPS visit lightly. IBCLCs and CLCs, LLL leaders and WIC Peer Counselors in the USA who work with moms need to be aware of this issue and although internationally women are being encouraged to exclusively breastfeed while taking antiretroviral meds, this is not the case in the USA.

I would like to close this blog post with a link to, "An Open Letter from Cheryl Nagel" in Celia Farber's website, The Truth Barrier.  Cheryl Nagel is the mother of Lindsey Nagel, a beautiful young woman who was adopted as an infant by Cheryl and Steve Nagel in 1990 from Romania.  She was diagnosed as hiv positive in the USA as an infant and put on AZT and various other drugs.  Her parents took her off the meds as a young child because of their belief that the meds were making her very sick. (AZT is chemo, a poison and makes most people very sick, and why some people have difficulty with complying with the drug regimen) She survived and thrived into adulthood.  She had a baby in December 2012, and the nightmare began for her and her family. 

There are many questions regarding hiv and breastfeeding.  Why has immunology in which antibodies mean protection been turned upside-down by AIDS establishment science?  Who wins financially, when we believe this?  Our fear of infectious disease appears to win out over rational thought and discourse.  There is a need to investigate the hiv and breastfeeding studies and review whether these studies are more about the wishes of the drug and infant formula industries.  Fear can create health care policies that are just plain wrong.
Copyright 2015 Valerie W. McClain 




Saturday, November 21, 2015

Obesity and diabetes: the links to infant formula feeding

"We have found from our long term infant studies that rapid early growth, achieved in large part from nutrient enriched feedings from conventional infant formulas, may result in long-term adverse health effects in individuals later in life, particularly with regard to long-term vascular health relevant to the development of atherosclerosis and to the later propensity to insulin resistance and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)..."
Patent # 8703173, "Newborn infant formulas and feeding methods"
owned by University College of London
inventors:  Atul Singhal & Alan Lucas

Adverse health effects of infant formula?  What?  Obesity? Diabetes?  We have recently been besieged by articles that state that infant formula is just as good as breastfeeding.  I wonder how many people believe those articles?  Articles written by well-educated women who supposedly breastfed their babies, who scoff at breastfeeding as an important health care decision.  Instead they relegate breastfeeding to a life-style choice.  Of course, none of these authors have read the infant formula patents which state the need to make a better product because of the adverse effects of their current infant formula.  Patents from the 1950s til 2015, continue to express the need to change the formula to make it a better product with less adverse health effects.  Despite the current use of genetic engineering to improve the product, the product still seems to have its problems.  One would suppose that the industry would give up on trying to make their product like their gold standard, human milk.  But they continue on, revamping and changing infant formula to suit the current trends in research.  In the late 1990s, it was DHA and ARA (made from gmo algae and fungi), an imitation of what is naturally in breastmilk.  Now its Human milk Oligosaccharides (the real thing or gmo).  What next?  Who knows?  There are thousands of components in human milk, so I imagine that this game can go on and on for some time.  Of course, when will people, particularly those in the health care industry; wise up to the game?  Parents need to know what kind of product they are serving their infants.  It's no secret that infant formula has risks, yet no one seems to be willing to talk openly about those risks.  The public presumes that any risks of infant formula are related to developing nations or mothers in poverty.  Yet we know from many studies over the years, that those risks still exist in wealthier nations.

Well, here's some patents from various infant formula companies regarding their product and the ramifications of the use of their product.

"Many studies show that type I diabetes is related to cow's milk consumption and neonatal feeding practices (2,10).  In the case-control studies (including a study conducted in the Juvenile Diabetes Unit of the Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel) patients with type I diabetes were more likely to have been breast-fed for less than 3 months and to have been exposed to cow's milk proteins before 3 months of age (3)."
Patent #6399090, "Insulin supplemented infant formula"
filed in 2001, owned by Insotech Ltd, Israel

"It has been suggested that systemic low-grade inflammation and a sub-optimal gut microbiota may be implicated in the development of obesity (Fantuzzi G. 'Adipose tissue, adipokines, and inflammation' J Allerg Clin Immunol. 2005;  115:911-919, Backhed F, Ding H, Wang T, et al "The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage" Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2004, 101: 15718-15723."

and same patent,

"Given the characteristic gut microbiota of breast-fed infants and the associated health benefits such as protection against infections, there is a real need to develop formulas with similar properties to human milk to ensure the infants who cannot be breast-fed obtain at least some of the beneficial effects conferred by human milk."
Patent # 9131721, "Gut microbiota in infants"
owned by Nestec (Nestle), filed 2008

"For example little is known about the effects of ingredients in the infant formulae on obesity later in life."
Patent #8871218, "Infant nutritional compositions for preventing obesity"
owned by N.V. Nutricia (Netherlands-infant formula company), filed 2012

"It has been found that the administration of DHA and ARA, or a source thereof, in infants can increase lean body mass and reduce fat body mass, when compared to an unsupplemented control formula, without impacting the total overall growth of the infant.  This method is especially useful in preterm infants."
Patent #9040075, "Method of increasing lean body mass and reducing body fat mass in infants"
owned by Abbott Laboratories, filed in 2005

***"Breast fed children tend to be heatlhier, with lower incidence of allergy and infectious disease, and tend to be leaner than formula-fed children."
Patent #8314061, "Adiponectin for treatment of various disorders"
Owned by Children's Hospital Medical Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) and University of Massachusetts, filed in 2007

*** Inventors Ardythe L Morrow, Lisa J Martin, and David S Newburg.  Morrow and Newburg have in the past been funded by Mead Johnson.  This patent is based on research on human milk donated to the Cincinati Children's Research Human Milk Bank (which is associated with HMBANA milk bank in Ohio) and human milk donated in the Mexican Human Milk Study.  Yes, Adiponectin is in human milk.

Infant feeding choice, whether actual choice or a defacto choice because of breastfeeding problems, should mean that we understand the ramifications of our decision-making.  We should be fully informed.  Instead I see all these newspaper articles that make infant feeding choices seem like a lifestyle choice.
Copyright 2015 Valerie W. McClain

Friday, November 13, 2015


"During the postnatal development, the newborn intestine experiences a process of maturation that ends by the establishment of a functional barrier to macromolecules and pathogenic bacteria.  This phenomenon is called gut closure and appears to be affected by the diet.  Hence, different studies with infants (JPGN, 1995, 21: 383-6) and animal models (Pediatr Res, 1990, 28: 31-7) show that the maturation of the barrier is faster in breast-fed than in formula-fed newborns.  This could explain the higher prevalence of allergy and infection in infants fed formula than in those fed with mother's milk."
Patent #8394370 "Nutritional formula for optimal gut barrier function,"
owned by Nestec (Nestle), filed in 2004

The cupboard is bare.  No infant formula on the shelves of major grocery stores in Australia.  Some parents have to go to 15 different stores to get their baby some formula.  These baby formula shortages have also occurred in Hong Kong and New Zealand.  What the hell is going on?

An article in The Age, Australia, ("Why Baby Formula is the New Iron Ore,"dated 11/13/15) by Jessica Irvine, "Aussie mums are finding themselves at the pointy end of what could prove a boon for Aussie dairy farmers and formula manufacturers." and the article seems to suggest that moms are stockpiling formula and that they, "might want to consider stockpiling a few shares, too."  Yes, while mums of Australia hunt for infant formula for their babies, they should also buy shares of stock in the infant formula industry.  Sadly, the article begins with the author's own experience with breastfeeding going badly and a kind nurse setting her free from having to breastfeed.  And then the author states, "With the support of my doctor, paediatrician and obstetrician, we switched to formula and have been a proud and happy formula-feeding family ever since."  Then the rest of the article is praise for the infant formula industry, and advice to investors and mums regarding the shortages.  

The nurse set this mom free from breastfeeding.  And now she is free to scramble with the rest of the Aussie moms to find enough formula to feed her baby.  Thank God for Freedom.  

Ever since the Chinese infant formula tragedy in 2008 where infants died and thousands hospitalized, there has been enormous economic repercussions not only in China but reverberating into other countries. The tragedy created an enormous distrust of the Chinese infant formula industry. And the consequence was an increased demand for infant formula manufactured in other countries. 

Then in 2013 the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China began an antitrust probe for suspected price fixing and other illegal practices of the major foreign baby formula brands (Mead Johnson, Danone, Nestle, Abbott, Friesland Campina and 2 Chinese companies, Biostime and Beignmate).  The NDRC had noticed that one infant formula company would increase the price of their formula and shortly afterwards the others would follow suit.  They accused the manufacturers of setting prices to their distributors creating in effect  a vertical monopoly. They eventually fined 6 companies.  The biggest fine went to Mead Johnson.  Abbott, Danone, Biostime, RoyalFrieslandCampina and Fonterra were also fined.  Nestle SA and Meiji of Japan were not fined because they, "cooperated with the investigation, provided important evidence and carried out active self-rectification." (Wall Street Journal, "China Fines Dairy Companies," Aug7, 2013)

Recently, China announced that it was relaxing the one child per family policy, allowing 2 children per family.  And of course, stock prices for various infant formula companies increased with this news.  In an article in Aussie Food News they state a study in 2013 shows that only 30% of Chinese women breastfeed.  The article attributes the low rates of breastfeeding as being caused by "a lack of public nursing facilities and minimal maternity leave." 

According to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, "Consumer advocates are demanding the federal government guarantee the supply of baby formula amid a spat between Coles [supermarket] and the government over who is to blame for a national shortfall of popular brands."

Who is to blame?  Some accuse Chinese vacationers and/or students who are visiting Australia for buying up popular infant formula  and reselling for big profits.  Some blame online websites that sell infant formula.  Grocery stores blame the manufacturers for the supply limitations.  Some blame infant formula advertising in which Chinese parents are convinced that a certain formula will increase intelligence or immune function.  The blame gets passed around and aound.  The truth seems to be lost in media hype.

Are these shortages a natural consequence of Chinese government policy, and/or Australian government policy?  Is it a natural consequence of the economics of supply and demand?  Are the shortages a result of deceptive advertising in China by the infant formula industry?  Are some people hoarding infant formula?  Are these shortages part of the monopolistic character of the infant formula industry? 

Mothers here in the USA, presume that this product that gives them freedom from breastfeeding will always be available.  Although what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina makes some of us aware that when disaster strikes infant formula maybe difficult to obtain during a disaster, as well as a risk for infants.  We presume in our society that grocery stores will always be full of a wide variety of convenience foods.  We presume that disasters happen to other people and other countries, not us.  We treasure our freedoms.  But freedom from breastfeeding means that infant formula feeding mothers are controlled by the economic winds of an industry in search of greater profits. Is that freedom? or slavery?
Copyright 2015 Valerie W. McClain

Saturday, November 7, 2015


"Denialism.  In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person's choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychological uncomfortable truth."

Why do I read these articles on the internet?  Masochism?  Three cups of coffee and once again I am reading an article blasting breastfeeding advocacy.  The media barrage of articles is like watching the first few drops of rain outside turning into a waterfall that creates a mudslide of destruction.  The words these people use to write their hate-filled messages: "witches of breastmilk,"stepford nurses marching through maternity units chanting breast is best," "the breastapo,"  "autobots from La Leche League.The article aptly entitled, "Is this proof the witches of breast milk are wrong after all."  

This article was published in the UK by the Telegraph (11/5/15).  Supposedly this mud-slinging article is about a study the author found.  The author states, "A study of almost 200 children, by the University of Chicago, has found that breast may not be best when it comes to preventing allergies--one of the most commonly recited fairy tales."  We don't know the name of the study or where it was published because in the author's mind that information is not important.  We must have faith and trust that the author is correct in her analysis that this study is the truth regarding allergies and breastfeeding.  

In my mind this must be satire, the author and the publisher cannot possibly believe their libelous comments regarding breastfeeding advocacy.  How do we call this article journalism?  If we reversed this article and a breastfeeding mother wrote an article about the autobots of the infant formula industry or the warlocks of the infant formula industry or the stepford nurses marching through the maternity units chanting infant formula, would that kind of article get published?  Don't think so.  No media outlet would publish it

I think what we are currently witnessing is a media barrage of breastfeeding denialism.  This media madness is designed to create doubt about breastfeeding and create anger against breastfeeding promotion.  And its about creating fear among breastfeeding advocates regarding promoting breastfeeding.  It is a well-designed media campaign by the infant formula industryThe only real problem for the industry is that their US patents are public record.  What they say in their patents regarding human milk/breastfeeding would make any woman question her faith in infant formula as a comparable choice.

The author of this article states, "...those that were breastfed as babies were just as likely to have hayfever as those who were bottle fed.  Nor did rates of asthma, eczema and food allergies differ between the two groups."  So I really need someone to explain why the infant formula industry is patenting human milk components to prevent allergies.  Why do that, if there is no difference between those babies that are breastfed and those that are formula fed?

In a recent patent by the infant formula company, Nutricia is creating a composition of a bacterium, Bifidobacterium breve (obtained from breastfed babies' feces) to improve lung function in people suffering from dust mite allergy.

"The present composition comprises non-genetically modified Bifidobacterium breve. Bifidobacterium breve is a Gram-positive, anaerobic, branched rod-shaped bacterium. The present B. breve preferably has at least 95% identity of the 16 S rRNA sequence when compared to the type strain of B. breve ATCC 15700, more preferably at least 97% identity (Stackebrandt & Goebel, 1994, Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 44:846-849). Preferred B. breve strains are those isolated from the faeces of healthy human milk-fed infants. Typically, these are commercially available from producers of lactic acid bacteria, but they can also be directly isolated from faeces, identified, characterised and produced. According to a preferred embodiment, the present composition contains at least one B. breve selected from the group consisting of B. breve Bb-03 (Rhodia/Danisco), B. breve M-16V (Morinaga), B. breve R0070 (Institute Rosell, Lallemand), B. breve BR03 (Probiotical), B. breve BR92) (Cell Biotech), DSM 20091, LMG 11613, YIT4065, FERM BP-6223 and CNCM 1-2219. Most preferably, the B. breve is selected from the group consisting of B. breve M-16V and B. breve CNCM 1-2219. "
Patent #9119414 entitled, "Bifidobacterium for dust mite allergy,"
Owned by N.V. Nutricia-Netherlands

In an older patent in 1993, 

"In spite of the great efforts which have been invested in preparing infant formulae, it has not been possible to produce a formula which to any substantial extent has the advantageous properties of human milk. 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 functions of the infant. In order to obtain an infant formula with a nutritional value similar to human milk, a number of additives including 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 # 5739407 entitled, "Human .beta.-casein, process for producing it and use therof,"
Owned by Symbicom aktiebolag (Sweden) a division of AstraZeneca 

or a Nestle patent published in June of this year (2015)

"Food allergies are among the first allergens that infants encounter in their early life;  typically cow's milk proteins may be encountered by infants not receiving exclusive breast-feeding."
Patent #9049881 entitled, "Nutritional composition comprising lactococcus strains and reducing allergy symptoms, especially in infants and children,"
owned by Nestec (Nestle)   

The infant formula industry recognizes that the first allergen that an infant will encounter is to cow's milk, if they are not exclusively breastfed.  Some companies even recognize that damage is done to some infants.  Yet popular media stories continue to deny the damage and problems of infant formula and continue to create the illusion that breastfeeding is promoted by crazed witches or autobots.  It reminds me of the climate change deniers who are blind to the environmental degradation of the earth.  How long will breastfeeding deniers continue to muddy the waters of reality?  Meanwhile the infant formula industry through patenting is extolling the use of human milk components in their products.  But who reads patents? Instead we get treated to the comedy-hour of breastfeeding denialism. 
Copyright 2015 Valerie W. McClain