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Thursday, March 17, 2011

INFACT Canada: Fed up with Formula Promotion

INFACT Canada sent out two updates this week- both about infant formula promotion.

Are you fed up with formula promotions?

Let the Minister of Health know that you want Health Canada to support mothers to breastfeed without commercial intervention.
Let the Minister of Health know that formula promotions threaten mother and infant/child health.
Let the Minister know that you want all formula promotions to stop; that formula promotions mislead and falsely claim to have attributes similar to breastmilk; that formula promotions undermine breastfeeding and are purposely targeted at pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
Let the Minister of Health know that when Canada endorses the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all the World Health Assembly resolutions on infant and young child nutrition, we expect these protective measures to be implemented in Canada. Canadian mothers, babies and families deserve supportive environments to enable all mothers to nourish their children optimally.
Let the Minister know that breastfeeding is normal and should be the fundamental principle for all policies relating to maternal and child health.
Let her know that Canada’s breastfeeding rates remain far from optimal; that the exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first six months is just over 16% (Canadian Perinatal Health Report, 2008). How is it that 84% of mothers fall short of Health Canada’s recommendations for infant feeding?
Let the Minister know that mother’s health and children’s growth, development and health are far more important that the profit interests of the infant formula companies. Formula industries should be held accountable, financially and morally, for the increased deaths, illness and chronic diseases linked to formula feeding.
Let the Minister know that the costs of the increased hospitalizations, the increased need for medical interventions, the increased costs of the cancers, diabetes, obesity, and the cardiovascular diseases are in the billions annually when children are not breastfed.

Let her know that you want her to STOP ALL FORMULA PROMOTIONS!

Write To:

Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health:

CC To:

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EU opposes misleading and deceptive health claims for infant formula and baby foods

INFACT Canada congratulates our partner group the UK-based Baby Milk Action and is pleased to have been able to support its work to inform and lobby the European Parliamentarians to oppose the misleading claims made by the infant formula/baby food industries.

European Parliamentarians oppose bogus baby food health claim

March 16, 2011 - Brussels
Members of the European Parliament have moved to block a baby food company from using a health claim on labels of follow-on formula.
The European Parliament’s committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) today voted to stop the claim that DHA, a long-chain fatty acid found in breastmilk, when added to follow-on formulas and baby foods improves babies’ vision. A Resolution will now go to the full Plenary in Strasbourg in April and if it is passed there, the claim will not be allowed in EU countries from 2012, or on exports from the EU. Baby Milk Action is lodging an official complaint about misinformation put out by the European Commission in trying to influence the votes of MEPs.
This is first time since the 2006 European Health and Nutrition Claims Regulations came into effect that MEPS have used their right to block a claim and the news was greeted with huge relief by thousands of health professionals and public health campaigners both in the EU and globally who have been fighting to protect parents rights to truly independent information about infant feeding.
Socialist MEP Glenis Willmott, Co-Chair of the Health Working Group, who led the MEPs veto said: “The European Parliament delegated the power to make decisions about infant feeding to the Commission and a specialist committee, which meets behind closed doors. However MEPs have an important role to play in scrutinising these decisions as this claim shows. Independent studies say there is no proven link between artificially added DHA and eyesight, and some studies have found possible negative effects of DHA supplementation. As the scientific evidence is still inconclusive, we cannot allow parents to be misled. Babies’ health is too important to be left in the hands of a multinational company’s marketing department.”
. . . .
Elisabeth Sterken
Director INFACT Canada

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Milk Sharing: circle that we create is never ending.

Thank you to Ana in Wisconsin for allowing me to share her amazingly beautiful story.

Hello! My name is Ana, and this is my milk donation story.

My beautiful daughter Clara was born on March 2nd of last year. Her pregnancy was blissful and I spent many happy months looking forward to finally meeting this amazing little person and starting on our long nursing relationship together! Her older brother had been a champ at the breast from the very start and had nursed all throughout the pregnancy, so I was also looking towards tandem nursing my baby girl and her 3 year old brother!
Her birth was a bit rough, but when she was finally in our arms all was peace. She latched right on and fed hungrily from the very get go :) No problems at all. So we thought....

3 days later, as we prepared to go home her blood work started coming back showing signs that her liver was in distress. 2 weeks in the NICU and a zillion tests later, she was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a rare but serious liver disease.
We were transported to Children's Hospital to await the first of her major surgeries. All went well, and we were given hope that the procedure (which involved taking 1/2 her liver, portions of her bowl, and rerouting her intestine) would allow her body to function properly. She was 3 weeks old at this point and still nursing great.
However in the months that followed, as we watched our sweet baby grow more and more yellow, watched as her belly swelled, and as she grew weaker by the day...we knew that the surgery hadn't been a success. Her weekly blood tests showed marked worsening of her condition.
And that 9 day early separation from the breast, despite my fervent pumping, and the stress of living in a hospital and watching my precious girl bet cut apart and sewn up again started to take it's toll on my milk supply.
But after 6 weeks, we went home. And still, we nursed. I laughed about it. After all I'm a LC! If anyone could do this, it was me!!

Then month 4 hit. She was hospitalized with a massive infection and we started to move towards full liver transplant.
It was during this hospitalization that our kind, wonderful group of doctors and advisers sat us down and told us that there was a good chance that she would not make it. Her body wasn't responding to treatment, and she wasn't the ideal candidate for transplant as it was. She continued to grow weaker. Suckling at the breast became a massive exertion that would leave her exhausted and expend more calories then she took in. With a failing liver, food absorption was enough of a problem already! So we put in a Nasal Gastric feeding tube to ease her struggle. And I pumped. God, did I ever pump. I had to get up every hour on the hour with her throughout the night to medicate and care for her as it was, so I pumped then too.
But despite my knowledge as a LC, and seasoned nursing mother, my milk dwindled. I didn't sleep. I cried. My baby was dying front of my eyes and I couldn't even give her the one thing she needed most. Due to the extensive injury and openness of her bowl, formula wasn't even an option. We tried out of desperation and it was very quickly obvious that it hurt her, and I took it off the table of her nutritional care options entirely.

So I put out the call. And it spread. It spread like wild fire.

As I type this, I'm sitting here crying a waterfall of tears remembering each and ever woman, many of whom I didn't even know at the time, showing up at my door with coolers full of their own liquid gold. Women from other states driving up to deliver milk. Friends, relatives, sisters in motherhood. Giving my child the gift of life. And this TRULY is what it came down to. My sweet Clara's life would not have been as long without all of that precious breast milk.
It was a gift that I can never repay. These women gave selflessly, expecting nothing in return. Holding me and crying with me and essentially nourishing my child as their own.

I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending. That Clara's transplant was a success. But after 6 months of fighting and pain and suffering we were told she was not a candidate for transplant at all.
So, we took her home.
And there she rolled in the grass, she played with soft kittens, she snuggled up on our warm chests every night. It was the most joyful time of my life.
She lived 8 long beautiful months and she took her last breaths in the comfort and security of our arms November 6th.

As I came slowly out of the shock and grief in the weeks that followed, I realized that my freezer still held the milk that ongoing donations had piled up and had sustained my Clara.
So again. I put out the call.
And late one December night I drove back to Children's and walked up those familiar steps into the NICU to deliver a cooler of milk to yet another mother. And I held her, and she held me, and we cried.

This is the gift that keeps on giving. And to each and every mother out there who is sharing her milk I say THANK YOU!! You are sharing life. You are sharing love.
Thank You.

Much mama love,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Introducing: Human Milk for Human Babies- formerly Eats on Feets Global

In a grand announcement  a few months ago, the Toronto Star published an article  "Pediatricians call for breast milk banks across Canada".  Applause, yes applause.  It's a wonderful thing that the media has jumped on the band wagon and is making public announcements like this, I mean,  any publicity is good publicity KWIM? Horray for Breastmilk!
But I have to admit that it irks me.  Mothers and Doctors, like Dr. Jack Newman, have been crying out for Milk Banks for Years- YEARS!!!! Not only that, but Canada does have a Milk Bank in Vancouver BC... a milk bank that they have been trying to close down for years!!  I wrote an article on the topic just a couple of months ago: Canada Needs Milk Banks!!!

 Yes, there is absolutely no doubt that Canada needs Milk Banks, and lots of them.  But if they are run like the BC Womens Hospital Milk Bank, keeping the liquid gold just for themselves, then how will that help babies in need in outlying communities?  And what about those "babies in need"?  The article in the Toronto Star yesterday states:
The milk, which would be pasteurized with the same heating method dairies use, would go mainly to two groups of infants, Unger says.
“There would be the really, really pre-term babies, the extremely low birth weight babies,” she says. “The other group of babies are the group who need surgery on their bowels.”
While no one would argue that these fragile infants desperately need breastmilk, ALL babies deserve breastmilk.  What about babies who's mothers are not physiologically capable of producing enough milk to exclusively breastfeeding their babies?  What about other fragile babies? What about older infants that are absolutely reliant on breastmilk to survive?  Infants like Anaya who are extremely ill and intolerant of ANYTHING except breastmilk?


Breastfeeding is NOT best, Breastfeeding is Normal.  But what if you are one of the (Hypothesized) 3% of women who are physically unable to produce enough milk to exclusively nurse their babies?  What if you have done everything possible to build and boost your milk supply.... and you still can't produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed your baby?  What then?
For many mothers they had only one option... until now.  NOW there is a global movement going on, a movement to get breastmilk to every baby in need through milk donations. It's called Milk Sharing.

Right here in Ontario there are currently no milk banks. So for a baby to receive breastmilk, the only way is from their mother, or through donations from other breastfeeding mothers. Hence the launch of  "Human Milk 4 Human Babies". We are here to help families that need milk, find families that are willing to donate milk.

Originally we started a global breastmilk sharing network called "Eats on Feets Global" back in Oct 2010.  Breastfeeding and childbirth activist Emma Kwasnica decided to launch a global network to help mothers who needed breastmilk find mothers who had breastmilk to spare.  In the summer of 2010 a Phoenix based midwife Shell Walker started a  local community page on Facebook dedicated to milk sharing. Emma, an advocate for informed choice, who was already connecting people around the globe who wanted to share milk via her personal profile page, approached Shell and asked to use her name "Eats on Feets" for the Global milk sharing network. Permission was granted by Shell  and Emma launched Eats On Feets GLOBAL. This network grew quickly to over 100 communities spanning the globe. 

Last week Eats On Feets GLOBAL changed its name to Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network. Within hours, donors and recipients were making matches on HM4HB. There are now 275 volunteers administering over 100 community pages in 42 countries. Donors and recipients are using the network to make matches literally every hour of every day.  For more information about the changes to the Global networks name please click HERE

Milk Sharing is not a new fad.  Milk sharing is as old as the human race and is still practised in societies where breastfeeding is the social norm.  Mothers have been nursing other babies since the beginning of time and babies have thrived.  All across the world mothers are forming impromptu "villages", caring and nurturing their children together,  caring for and helping each other, and nursing each others babies in an effort to provide healthy human food in a nurturing manner when it's needed.

 Every baby deserves human milk, we can't state that enough.  Sometimes we need to all pull together to make sure that no baby is left behind. Cows milk for baby cows, Human milk for baby humans.  It's really that simple.

 If you are a mom with a baby in need of breastmilk come to Human Milk For Human Babies and you'll find moms with milk to give.  If you're a mom that has breastmilk to give, come to HM4HB and you will find a mother in need of your generous donation.  It's all about getting Human Milk to Human Babies!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Former Executive Director of Unicef, joins Nestlé Board

I just received this update from Elizabeth at INFACT and thought that many of you would be interested to read this little bomb.

Sweet move:

Ann Veneman, controversial former Executive Director of Unicef, joins Nestlé Board

Ann Veneman, Unicef executive director from 2005 to 2010, will join the Nestlé board of directors next month. In the articles below understand the implications of her shocking career move from an organisation that supports breastfeeding to one that undermines breastfeeding.

A ‘sweet’ move from Unicef to Nestle

March 3, 2011
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has just released a glossy report on the state of the world’s children. Senior officials of the UN body made the right noises about children, the need to improve their nutritional status and so on, at media dos in several important capitals across the globe.
At a similar occasion a couple of years ago, Ann Veneman - who was Executive Director of the agency till April 2010 - had articulated Unicef’s position on how exclusive breastfeeding for toddlers is critical to combat hunger and promote child survival. Post-retirement the UN official has undergone a change of mind.
She will now be on the board of a company which has been accused of subverting efforts to promote breastfeeding by flouting laws in order to market its formula foods. Yes, Veneman is joining the Board of Directors of Switzerland-based food giant - Nestlé.
From World Public Health Nutrition Association -

Ann Veneman. USDA. UNICEF. SCN. Nestlé Public-private partnerships personified

March, 2011
Ann Veneman, UNICEF executive director 2005-2010, is to become a member of the main board of Nestlé, effective next month. This news has shocked some in our profession, and has confirmed the cynical opinion of others. Her appointment in 2005 to head UNICEF as its executive director was at the time welcomed by some senior UNICEF staff, who saw her as a political heavy-hitter, able to lever support on behalf of the world’s children at the highest level. Between 2006 and 2009 she was also chair of the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), with which many Association members are or have been associated.
In December 2009, when she was about to step down from the UNICEF post, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “She has fulfilled her mandate with immense dedication, and I have been impressed by her extraordinary energy and determination to improve children’s health, education and well-being around the world. Under her leadership, UNICEF has become a catalyst for global action to help children reach their full potential, promoting collaborations that deliver the best possible results for children based on expert knowledge, sound evidence and data... Her legacy is an organization that is financially and intellectually strong and well-equipped to meet the challenges children face in the twenty-first century”.
Dr Ban might not be quite as fulsome now, knowing that she will now be playing a leading part in the policies and strategies of the world’s biggest manufacturer of artificial baby formula. There again, as a fervent supporter of public-private partnerships, maybe he would not cool any of his warm words.
Elisabeth Sterken
Director INFACT Canada