In response to Hanna Rosin’s now-infamous article that “breast may not always be best,” one blog titled “Mommy Myth-Busters” picked up on it, and said that the “breast is best myth has been busted.”
Of course, a long comment-conversation ensued, and someone named Jennifer wrote the following comment (sorry for it being out of context, but you can read those above for context):
HAHAHA! If you are going to make a case for “Formula KILLS children”, please cite your extensive, scientific evidence. Because that claim is utterly LUDICROUS. If that were true, don’t you think there would be reported deaths all around the country attributed to formula? There would be deaths every day, due soley to formula! Chapters on formula deaths would be right alongside SIDS chapters in books: “Formula has been shown to cause death in whatever% children. Know the risks!”
Sounds like you’ve been thoroughly brainwashed.
Kills children..haha, I’m still laughing.
I tried to respond, but unfortunately it discarded my comment — probably for being too long and/or having too many links. So I am posting it here, and will link back to the discussion:
I hope you will quit laughing about children dying, because I don’t think the topic is very funny. Here are just a few links for your perusal, and I daresay you will be able to find many more.
In this one, formula feeding is associated with higher medical costs in the first year of life, in Arizona; and cited other studies that showed “lower rates of infant illness in both developing and industrialized countries” (you can look at the footnotes for the particular studies. It doesn’t mean that these illnesses necessarily lead to death, but most infant deaths are preceded by illnesses, so even this study shows a strong correlation if not causation due to not breast-feeding, which then leaves only formula feeding or starvation.
This link is just to the abstract of a study (unfortunately the full study requires a subscription), but it speaks of the important protective effect of breastfeeding against infectious illness in industrialized countries, and says that this protective effect is even stronger in developing countries. While it discusses the many factors of infant mortality that are different in developing vs developed countries (clean water, health care, etc.), it notes that, “Much of the difference in rates of infant and child mortality and morbidity is attributable to high rates of infectious illness, especially gastrointestinal disease. Thus, in these populations, the positive effects of breast-feeding are of greater potential importance for the health of the infant population and should be easier to detect in clinical and epidemiologic studies.” You see, when a formula-fed child in the United States gets sick, the mom can bop down to the doctor or hospital and get help so that the child usually does not die. Third-world mothers do not have that luxury, so please don’t keep laughing about these poor babies that are dying due to diseases that they would not have gotten were they breastfed.
Still laughing? Well, try this one on for size — “free formula — a blessing or a curse?” — which discusses formula-feeding in the case of an HIV-positive mother (who may pass on the virus to an as-yet uninfected child by breastfeeding him or her), and says, “Formula eliminates HIV transmission but incurs risk of increased mortality, whereas breastfeeding has multiple benefits but entails risk of HIV transmission.”
Maybe you’re no longer laughing, but in case you’re still chuckling… Read this from the World Health Organization that says that exclusive breastfeeding for six months reduces by 3-4x the transmission of HIV from an infected mother to a child, compared to non-exclusive breastfeeding [btw, it’s thought that this is because formula feeding is so much harder on a child’s system that it opens up little places — sores, ulcers, fissures whatever you want to call them — in the stomach and intestines which can then more easily absorb the HIV from breastmilk — with exclusive formula feeding, there is no HIV transmission; with exclusive breastfeeding, there are much fewer raw areas in the intestines; but mixed feeding carries both risks]. It further says, “where free infant formula was provided, the combined risk of HIV transmission and death was similar whether infants were formula fed or breastfed from birth; and (3) early breastfeeding cessation was associated with reduced HIV transmission but also with increased risk of morbidity and child mortality in infants born to HIV-infected mothers.” And, “There is no doubt that there are small groups in resource-constrained countries with basic and essential services that allow the hygienic preparation of formula milks. However, for the child population as a whole the unrestrained promotion of formula is generally harmful.” This article also discusses the limitations on safe preparation of formula (for instance, it’s not very healthful to mix formula with dirty, disease-laden water, is it? plus many mothers cannot afford formula, so will water down the formula too much to make it stretch, and the child does not get enough nutrition). Haha, you know I’m laughing about babies starving to death, or being so malnourished that they cannot fight off infection. Laugh it up.
From the UK a study, which states that, “Breastfeeding, particularly when exclusive and prolonged, protects against severe morbidity in contemporary United Kingdom. A population-level increase in exclusive, prolonged breastfeeding would be of considerable potential benefit for public health.” — and if it is so beneficial amongst an already healthy and well-cared-for population, imagine how much more beneficial it can be among those who do not even have clean water.
Finally, this one, which also cites the 1.5 million deaths per year that was noted above: “Postneonatal mortality is most often caused by infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, tetanus, and malaria. An important factor in reducing post-neonatal mortality is adequate nutrition, particularly breast milk, which provides babies with both the nourishment and the antibodies to fight infectious diseases. Of course adequate breast milk depends upon adequately nourished mothers. Also important is the proper use of breast milk substitutes—mixing formula with unclean water and/or diluting formula for cost-savings reasons, both known to occur in developing countries, have negative affects on the health of infants. The promotion by multinational corporations of breast milk substitutes to women in poorer countries has been one of the travesties of our times; it is estimated that 1.5 million deaths a year could be prevented by breast-feeding.”
Funny, I don’t feel like laughing.