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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants"

This is a brilliantly written article.  Not because of the information it provides, as we have read many many articles that outline the fact that formula fed babies are at a higher risk of so many sicknesses and diseases from infancy right through to adulthood.  No, the reason this article is worthy of EXTRA attention is because it uses the correct language to get this message across!  The Author, Dr. Alison Stuebe continuously through out the article uses the statement "the Risks of formula feeding", instead of "The Benefits of Breastfeeding".

It's all about the language. If we want people and society to truly understand and make the right choice in infant feeding, then we have to use the right words and statements to make sure that the information is absolutely clear and concise. When we say "Breast is best",  that breastfeeding is the best possible way to feed babies because it provides their ideal food, perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition, the logical response is, "So what?" Our own experience tells us that optimal is not necessary. Normal is fine.  Therefore if Breast is best, then formula feeding is just normal, so we have created the unconscious thought that therefore formula is normal and that makes it acceptable.

Breast is NOT Best.  Breast is NORMAL!!

Language is so important, and to truly appreciate the differences and the perceptions that are created by using the wrong words and improper language, you should read the exceptional article "Watch Your Language"

The article below uses the correct language- it's not that breastfeeding decreases your child chance of getting sick, it's that formula feeding increases your childs risks of getting sick.  I think that if more parents were informed of this- clearly, using the right language- then more parents would refuse to fall prey to the formula advertising and would feed their babies the normal way.

The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants
Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Health outcomes differ substantially for mothers and infants who formula feed compared with those who breastfeed, even in developed countries such as the United States. A recent meta-analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reviewed this evidence in detail1:
  • For infants, not being breastfed is associated with an increased incidence of infectious morbidity, including otitis media, gastroenteritis, and pneumonia, as well as elevated risks of childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Among premature infants, not receiving breast milk is associated with an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
  • For mothers, failure to breastfeed is associated with an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome.
These findings suggest that infant feeding is an important modifiable risk factor for disease for both mothers and infants. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) therefore recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding for all infants.2 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)3 and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)4 similarly recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, continuing at least through the infant’s first birthday, and as long thereafter as is mutually desired. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 2 years of breastfeeding for all infants.
In the United States, breastfeeding durations fall far short of these guidelines.5 In 2005, 74.2% of US infants were breastfed at least once after delivery, but only 31.5% were exclusively breastfed at age 3 months, and just 11.9% were exclusively breastfed at age 6 months. These rates show considerable regional variation, with the highest rates in the Pacific Northwest and the lowest rates in the Southeast. Although some of this variation reflects cultural differences, recent data suggest that variations in hospital practices account for a considerable proportion of disparities in breastfeeding duration.6 This suggests that improvements in the quality of antenatal and perinatal support for breastfeeding could have a substantial impact on the health of mothers and infants.
This article reviews the health risks of not breastfeeding, for infants and for mothers, as well as the obstetrician’s role in counseling women regarding infant feeding and ensuring an optimal start for breastfeeding at birth.

The Risks of Formula Feeding Versus the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Public health campaigns and medical literature have traditionally described the “benefits of breastfeeding,” comparing health outcomes among breastfed infants against a reference group of formula-fed infants. Although mathematically synonymous with reporting the “risk of not breastfeeding,” this approach implicitly defines formula feeding as the norm. As several authors have noted,79 this subtle distinction impacts public perceptions of infant feeding. If “breast is best,” then formula is implicitly “good” or “normal.” This distinction was underscored by national survey data showing that, in 2003, whereas 74.3% of US residents disagreed with the statement: “Infant formula is as good as breast milk,” just 24.4% agreed with the statement: “Feeding a baby formula instead of breast milk increases the chance the baby will get sick.”10
These distinctions appear to influence parents’ feeding decisions. In 2002, the Ad Council conducted focus groups to develop the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign, targeted at reproductive-aged women who would not normally breastfeed. They found that women who were advised about the “benefits of breastfeeding” viewed lactation as a “bonus,” like a multivitamin, that was helpful but not essential for infant health. Women responded differently when the same data were presented as the “risk of not breastfeeding,” and they were far more likely to say that they would breastfeed their infants. Given these findings, this review will present differences in health outcomes as risks of formula feeding, using breastfeeding mother-infant dyads as the referent group.

HERE to read the entire article 

INFACT Canada has an excellent handout titled "14 Risks of Formula Feeding"- every breastfeeding advocate should read this pdf and keep a copy on hand.  INFACT presents the Risks clearly with little room for misunderstanding.