What they won't tell you about formula...
** it is really long, so I am just adding excerpts that I thought were most relevant, but DEFINTELY CHECK THIS ARTICLE OUT!!
All mammals produce milk for their young, and the human species has been nurturing its babies at the breast for at least 400,000 years. For centuries, when a woman could not feed her baby herself, another lactating woman, or ‘wet nurse’, took over the job. It is only in the last 60 years or so that we have largely abandoned our mammalian instincts and, instead, embraced a bottlefeeding culture that not only encourages mothers to give their babies highly processed infant formulas from birth, but also to believe that these breastmilk substitutes are as good as, if not better than, the real thing.
Most commercial formulas are based on cow’s milk. But before a baby can drink cow’s milk in the form of infant formula, it needs to be severely modified. The protein and mineral content must be reduced and the carbohydrate content increased, usually by adding sugar. Milk fat, which is not easily absorbed by the human body, particularly one with an immature digestive system, is removed and substituted with vegetable, animal or mineral fats.
Vitamins and trace elements are added, but not always in their most easily digestible form. (This means that the claims that formula is ‘nutritionally complete’ are true, but only in the crudest sense of having had added the full complement of vitamins and minerals to a nutritionally inferior product.)
Many formulas are also highly sweetened. While most infant formulas do not contain sugar in the form of sucrose, they can contain high levels of other types of sugar such as lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), glucose (also known as dextrose, a simple sugar found in plants) and maltodextrose (malt sugar). Because of a loophole in the law, these can still be advertised as ‘sucrose free’. Formula may also contain unintentional contaminants introduced during the manufacturing process. Some may contain traces of genetically engineered soya and corn.
The bacteria Salmonella and aflatoxins – potent toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive agents produced by species of the fungus Aspergillus – have regularly been detected in commercial formulas, as has Enterobacter sakazakii, a devastating foodborne pathogen that can cause sepsis (overwhelming bacterial infection in the bloodstream), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and necrotising enterocolitis (severe infection and inflammation of the small intestine and colon) in newborn infants.
Soya formulas are of particular concern due to the very high levels of plant-derived oestrogens (phytoestrogens) they contain. In fact, concentrations of phytoestrogens detected in the blood of infants receiving soya formula can be 13,000 to 22,000 times greater than the concentrations of natural oestrogens. Oestrogen in doses above those normally found in the body can cause cancer.
Breastmilk is a ‘live’ food that contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, antibodies and at least 400 other unique components. It is a dynamic substance, the composition of which changes from the beginning to the end of the feed and according to the age and needs of the baby. Because it also provides active immunity, every time a baby breastfeeds it also receives protection from disease. Compared to this miraculous substance, the artificial milk sold as infant formula is little more than junk food. It is also the only manufactured food that humans are encouraged to consume exclusively for a period of months, even though we know that no human body can be expected to stay healthy and thrive on a steady diet of processed food.
The most important nutrient in breastmilk; the absence of cholesterol and DHA may predispose a child to adult heart and CNS diseases. Leftover, unabsorbed fat accounts for unpleasant smelling stools in formula-fed babies.
Bottlefed babies are twice as likely to die from any cause in the first six weeks of life. In particular, bottlefeeding raises the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) by two to five times. Click here to read an article by Dr. Sears as to the link between breastfeeding and lower SIDS rates. Bottlefed babies are also at a significantly higher risk of ending up in hospital with a range of infections. They are, for instance, five times more likely to be admitted to hospital suffering from gastroenteritis.
Even in developed countries, bottlefed babies have rates of diarrhoea twice as high as breastfed ones. They are twice as likely (20% vs 10%) to suffer from otitis media (inner-ear infection), twice as likely to develop eczema or a wheeze if there is a family history of atopic disease, and five times more likely to develop urinary tract infections. In the first six months of life, bottlefed babies are six to 10 times more likely to develop necrotising enterocolitis – a serious infection of the intestine, with intestinal tissue death – a figure that increases to 30 times the risk after that time.
Even more serious diseases are also linked with bottlefeeding. Compared with infants who are fully breastfed even for only three to four months, a baby drinking artificial milk is twice as likely to develop juvenile-onset insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes. There is also a five- to eightfold risk of developing lymphomas in children under 15 who were formulafed, or breastfed for less than six months.
In later life, studies have shown that bottlefed babies have a greater tendency towards developing conditions such as childhood inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, dental malocclusion, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hyperactivity, autoimmune thyroid disease and coeliac disease.
For all of these reasons, formula cannot be considered even ‘second best’ compared with breastmilk. Officially, the World Health Organization (WHO) designates formula milk as the last choice in infant-feeding: Its first choice is breastmilk from the mother; second choice is the mother’s own milk given via cup or bottle; third choice is breastmilk from a milk bank or wet nurse and, finally, in fourth place, formula milk.
According to Mary Smale, it’s confidence and the expectation of support that make the difference, particularly for socially disadvantaged women. "The concept of ‘self efficacy’ – in other words, whether you think you can do something – is quite important. You can say to a woman that breastfeeding is really a good idea, but she’s got to believe various things in order for it to work. First of all, she has to think it’s a good idea – that it will be good for her and her baby. Second, she has to think: ’I’m the sort of person who can do that’; third – and maybe the most important thing – is the belief that if she does have problems, she’s the sort of person who, with help, will be able to sort them out.
Studies show, for example, that women on low incomes often believe that breastfeeding hurts, and they also tend to believe that formula is just as good. So from the start, the motivation to breastfeed simply isn’t there. But really, it’s the thought that if there were any problems, you couldn’t do anything about them; that, for instance, if it hurts, it’s just the luck of the draw. This mindset is very different from that of a middleclass mother who is used to asking for help to solve things, who isn’t frightened of picking up the phone, or saying to her midwife or health visitor, ‘I want you to help me with this’."
Nearly all women – around 99% – can breastfeed successfully and make enough milk for their babies to not simply grow, but to thrive. With encouragement, support and help, almost all women are willing to initiate breastfeeding, but the drop-off rates are alarming: 90% of women who give up in the first six weeks say that they would like to have continued. And it seems likely that long-term exclusive breastfeeding rates could be improved if consistent support were available, and if approval within the family and the wider community for breastfeeding, both at home and in public, were more obvious and widespread.
Clearly, this social support isn’t there, and the bigger picture of breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding suggests that there is, in addition, a confluence of complex factors – medical, socioeconomic, cultural and political – that regularly undermine women’s confidence, while reinforcing the notion that feeding their children artificially is about lifestyle rather than health, and that the modern woman’s body is simply not up to the task of producing enough milk for its offspring.
Women do not fail to breastfeed. Health professionals, health agencies and governments fail to educate and support women who want to breastfeed. Without support, many women will give up when they encounter even small difficulties. And yet, according to Mary Renfrew, ‘Giving up breastfeeding is not something that women do lightly. They don’t just stop breastfeeding and walk away from it. Many of them fight very hard to continue it and they fight with no support. These women are fighting society – a society that is not just bottle-friendly, but is deeply breastfeeding-unfriendly."
To reverse this trend, governments all over the world must begin to take seriously the responsibility of ensuring the good health of future generations. To do this requires deep and profound social change. We must stop harassing mothers with simplistic ‘breast is best’ messages and put time, energy and money into re-educating health professionals and society at large.
We must also stop making compromises. Government health policies such as, say, in the UK and US, which aim for 75% of women to be breastfeeding on hospital discharge, are little more than paying lip service to the importance of breastfeeding. Most of these women will stop breastfeeding within a few weeks, and such policies benefit no one except the formula manufacturers, who will start making money the moment breastfeeding stops. To get all mothers breastfeeding, we must be prepared to:
- Ban all advertising of formula including follow-on milks
- Ban all free samples of formula, even those given for educational or study purposes
- Require truthful and prominent health warnings on all tins and cartons of infant formula
- Put substantial funding into promoting breastfeeding in every community, especially among the socially disadvantaged, with a view to achieving 100% exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
- Fund advertising and education campaigns that target fathers, mothers-in- law, schoolchildren, doctors, midwives and the general public
- Give women who wish to breastfeed in public the necessary encouragement and approval
- Make provisions for all women who are in employment to take at least six months paid leave after birth, without fear of losing their jobs.