Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another Point To Formula

Apparently our Government can be bought.  Most breastfeeding advocates were excited at the ad campaign that was supposed to begin to support breastfeeding.  Ads showing pregnant women doing dangerous things, played up the information that we know to be true: feeding a baby formula is risky.  It is a substitute for breast-milk, and a far from perfect one.

Sadly, there is a lot of marketing for formula.  They market it to hospitals, doctors, and mothers.  They have the airwaves, the gift bags, and a lot of money to pay lobbyists.  What does breastfeeding have?  Only the support of some well educated pediatricians and parents.

Breastfeeding, in our media driven society, simply cannot compete.  The idea of an ad campaign was wonderful!  So, what happened?  Well, formula companies squashed it.  They raised doubts as to the validity of the science that has proven that babies who are not breastfed have a 20% higher mortality rate, as well as increased rates of leukemia, diabetes, obesity, infections, and complications related to diarrhea.

Some women can't breastfeed, and for them, formula is necessary.  The benefits would outweigh those risks, as it's the best substitute we have that's accessible.  But the truth of it is that it's not as good as the real thing.  Formula should be available, but breastfeeding should be encouraged.

Breastfeeding could save a lot of babies.  But the government isn't encouraging it.  They caved under the power of the big formula companies, at the cost of the health of our brand new babies.  Really, I find it sickening.  Especially when one of the doctors opposing the ads because of things like the pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull, hasn't even seen them.  He spoke as if the ad were advocating pregnant women going to rodeo bars.  Obviously not!  It simply points out that if you don't want to take any chances, breastfeed.

Babies should receive only breast-milk for the first 6 months, and should remain breastfeeding for at least one year.  The WHO actually recommends two years!  But will American women hear that on TV?  Probably not.  They'll only hear that Enfamil has formula with DHA and ARA 'like in breastmilk' insinuating that their product is just as good.  Which is hogwash.  But where is the outrage over their ad campaign?  Where is the worry about giving women inaccurate information?  Only on blogs like this one.

To see 20/20's piece on this issue See here, and click on the first link in the Media Center column.

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