"No two hemispheres of any learned professor's brain
are equal to two healthy mammary glands in the
production of a satisfactory food for infants."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes
willingly sacrifice themselves, their time or their money to give their
infants a healthier life. Some mothers breastfeed their infants. Some
mothers pump their breasts to feed their infants. Some mothers use
infant formula. They make these decisions based sometimes on instinct,
sometimes on literature given out by breastfeeding organizations, or the
influence of infant formula marketing. Some mothers make their choices
based on spousal or family pressures. Sometimes their choices are
based on seeing others who have breastfed their babies, or bottle fed
their breast milk and/or formula fed.
much of this decision process is based on truth and how much is based
on societal pressures and marketing of products? What happens when
marketing pressures distort our reality of the differences between these
choices? What happens when medical authorities are afraid to speak
honestly to mothers about the differences between exclusively
breastfeeding and providing breast milk exclusively?
have witnessed the rise in the use of breast pumps. In fact, like the
bottle, it has fast become the standard baby shower gift. When I was
employed as an IBCLC, I began to notice that more and more mothers
believed that breastfeeding could not happen without a breast pump.
Women with little to no financial resources bought the cheapest pumps
they could find (some second-hand) and many quite useless products. Did
this rise in the buying of breast pumps, increase breastfeeding rates?
Well, initiation rates certainly have increased. But duration rates
are still quite low...meaning in general terms that all these breast
pumps may not be sustaining long term pumping or creating more
breastfeeding. Interestingly the categories for statistics on
breastfeeding initiation and duration do not include the categories
breast milk feeding or exclusive breast milk feeding. A mother who is
pumping will be listed as a breastfeeding mother. Which is not a
problem unless we truly want to come to understanding about whether
pumping impacts breastfeeding or whether more moms are pumping than
actually breastfeeding. Are there differences in health effects between
exclusively breastfeeding and providing breast milk exclusively? I
suspect there are differences. Infants being fed pumped milk will have
greater exposures to plastics (chemicals considered endocrine
disruptors). If infants fed pumped milk are in daycare settings, they
will be exposed to more infections/diseases. Will the question of these
differences be researched? Or will these differences be muted because
of the mistaken belief that breastfeeding is the same as human milk
feeding. Thus exclusive breastfeeding will appear less protective and
exclusive breast milk feeding will appear more protective? Should we
care about this issue? Won't we offend mothers who are pumping their
milk? Is the truth important or not?
rise of the human milk industry (Prolacta and Medolac) is already
creating a lot of confusion. The hiring of people from the infant
formula industry and the partnership of Prolacta with Abbott (infant
formula company) creates a merging of mutual interests and beliefs.
Does the creation of human milk products for use in human milk
fortifiers, preterm and term milks mean that infant formula will in the
future contain human milk components (or maybe already has these
components or their genetically engineered versions)? Or is this all a
word game played out by a new industry and an old industry desires to
make a profit? Don't we want a safer infant formula? And doesn't that
mean that human milk components or its genetic equivalent needs to be a
part of the newer, safer infant formula?
I have noticed that the words, breastfeeding and breast milk feeding
(or human milk feeding), seem to be used as one and the same. I have
read various articles not only in the media but in medical literature
that use the word breastfeeding when they mean breast milk feeding.
These articles and professional papers perpetuate a confusion between a
behavior that nutritionally sustains an infant through physical contact
and a behavior that produces a product to nutritionally sustain an
infant. Why are these words being used as, if they are synonymous? What
is the purpose in this distortion of reality? Is there a purpose in
using words incorrectly or is it just simply a misunderstanding of the
impact of words in creating a reality? Or has the merging of a human
milk industry with the infant formula industry created the need to
create a language of distortion?
breastfeeding organizations ask these questions? Certainly the infant
formula and human milk industries will not question the distortion of
our language. And certainly the breast pump industry has no financial
incentive to question the use of breast milk feeding as synonymous with
breastfeeding. So onward we go with the infant formula industry
mimicking the properties of human milk, even to the point of genetically
engineering human milk components.
#8114441 entitled, "Immune stimulatory infant nutrition," filed in 2005
by N.V. Nutricia (infant formula company). The patent explains that
whey dominant formulas create, "suboptimal intestinal flora." They
believe that whey dominant formulas do not protect against infection
like human milk and their new formula will reduce the risks of feeding
whey dominant infant formula. The patent states that human milk protects
against infections and allergies. They will be adding oligosaccharides
(galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
#8445429 entitled, "Lactoferrin & neuronal health and development
in the infant gut," filed in 2010 by Nestec (Nestle). The patent
describes how lactoferrin exhibits antimicrobial activity and is part of
the innate defense system. "Lactoferrin improves neuron density and
neuron survival." and "It protects neuronal cells and delays neuronal
cell death." High concentrations are found in human colostrum, human
milk, then cow's milk (debatable whether very much in cow's milk: some
researchers state their is little to no lactoferrin in cow's milk).
They state their source for lactoferrin may be a "milk or whey source:
bovine milk, human milk, goat milk, camel milk, horse or donkey milk."
"Colostrum may be used as well."
#8703737 entitled, "Nutritional formulations including human milk
oligosaccharides and antioxidants and uses thereof," filed in 2011 by
Abbott. The patent's purpose is to reduce inflammation and the
incidence of inflammatory diseases. The patent states, "...these breast
milk components, function as antioxidants and as immune modulators,
includes not only protection of breast milk lipids by peroxidation, but
may also assist in the regulation of inflammatory response to infection
and other injury." and " HMOs [Human Milk Oligosaccharide's] act in a
synergistic manner against respiratory viruses, including RSV when
combined with a long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid and/or a
carotenoid." and "The HMO or HMOs may be isolated or enriched from
mik(s) secreted by mammals including but not limited to human, bovine,
ovine, porcine, or caprine species." Not sure how one can have a human
oligosaccharide from another species of animal--unless genetically
engineered. They also mention that HMOs may be produced by "microbial
fermentation, enzymatic processes, chemical sytheses or combinations
let confusion rein upon our lives. What is in that can of infant
formula? Human Milk components? Genetically manipulated human milk
components? Is a mother breastfeeding or is she breast milk feeding?
Will we understand whether there are differences in health effects from
each form of feeding? Or will marketing make the public believe that
all is one and the same? It's a strange world.
Copyright 2014 Valerie W. McClain
article entitled, "Formula Ingredients for Infant Health" published in
Nutritional Outlook" submitted by rgardner. It states, "With two-earner
households now the norm, millions of moms will continue to opt for the
convenience of formula. This opens enormous opportunity for suppliers
of nutritional ingredients, while at the same time placing great
responsibility on their shoulders."