Breastfeeding in the News: July 11th – July 17th, 2009

Hello All,

I came across some really interesting articles this week.  For you scientist types there are two fascinating studies.  One explains why the hind milk is so much fattier.  It’s not that the milk fat globules (MFG) are bigger; instead as the breast empties more milk fat globules (MFG) are released which then increases the fat content. 

The other study is a great look at different foreign chemicals (dioxin, PCB’s, pesticides. etc.) in breast milk and how for some mothers certain chemicals increased over the course of lactation while in other mothers the same chemical decreased. (For you geeks who love this stuff see the story I’ve marked as the “actual study”.)  The authors stated that the trend of the chemical concentration is mother-dependent and does not appear to be related to her initial concentration.” Meaning that no matter how many chemicals a mother’s body has absorbed over a life time other factors influence how much of it gets into your breast milk.   One of those factors may be diet, but it is “a complex issue as one food group that may contain higher levels of one class of the persistent chemicals (e.g., PCBs in fish) might be replaced with another food group containing other chemicals that may be transferred to breast milk (e.g., dioxins in dairy products).” 

These authors also mention another study that shows that different chemicals are attracted to different tissues.  For example, they found “relative concentrations of PCDD TEQs in the following maternal compartments: placenta > maternal blood > breast milk > adipose tissue > cord blood. For PCDFs, a different order was observed: placenta > maternal blood > cord blood > breast milk > adipose tissue. The authors suggest that different chemical groups may have different affinities for specific tissue types” The molecular weight of individual chemicals may determine which areas of the body they like are most likely to leak over into first.  But for us it is important to remember that like it or not, our baby’s first exposure to chemicals actually occurred in utero.

For you advocates there is a terrific story of a 13 year old girl who won a school contest for the best slogan (“The Best Milk’s Under Your T-Shirt, Mam”) to promote breast feeding to young mothers.  I love this story because it 1) it shows an easy way to get into the school system, & 2) it targets teen moms.  Also interesting was the story I found in an advertising journal that looked at why the famous mechanical bull ads missed the mark. 

I was also glad to see breastfeeding being mentioned as a preventive measure in both a Diabetes journal and in a Nursing journal.  This happy trend shows that the word is finally spreading to specific target groups (now if we can only get the breast cancer people on board – that’s where all the money is!).  But I was unhappy with an article that started out by saying that the decision to breast or bottle feed is a choice that all mothers are “forced to make”.  This is not “Sophie’s Choice” people, forced seems like much too harsh a word here. 

And while we’re talking about bottle feeding you may be surprised to learn that the push by health care professionals to get women to breastfeed is now being blamed for putting bottle fed babies at risk!    “NHS’ obsession with breastfeeding is putting bottle fed babies at risk. Although it is true that more instruction needs to be given on how to use formula safely (Marsha Walker has been saying this for years!), to actually blame the breastfeeding movement for babies who have been scalded by formula heated in a microwave is ridiculous! 

That’s it for this week.  And as always I love hearing back from you.

Kathy Abbott, IBCLC



Path to Good Health Includes Breastfeeding Your Baby, Avoiding Pesticides, and Eating a Mediterranean Diet (Diabetes Health)

Breastfeeding: Chemical Concentrations Do Not Decrease During Lactation

ScienceDaily (July 16, 2009)

A new study suggests that lipid-adjusted concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans and organochlorine pesticides in women’s blood serum and milk do not decrease during lactation as previously thought. This new insight should improve researchers’ ability to assess infant exposures to environmental chemicals via breastfeeding.

This new finding also challenges the idea that early milk should be pumped and discarded as a means of reducing infant exposure to persistent organic pollutants, which can accumulate in a mother’s fat stores over her lifetime and be mobilized during lactation

Do Human Milk Concentrations of Persistent Organic Chemicals Really Decline During Lactation?

Chemical Concentrations During Lactation and Milk/Serum Partitioning (The actual study – k.a.)

If current diet is a signficant source of persistent environmental chemicals in breast milk,

this implies that new mothers may be able to take actions that could reduce infant

exposure. However, this is a complex issue as one food group that may contain higher

levels of one class of the persistent chemicals (e.g., PCBs in fish) might be replaced with

another food group containing other chemicals that may be transferred to breast milk (e.g.,

dioxins in dairy products). Further study focusing on measurements of chemicals in diet

and changes in milk concentration is warranted before specific dietary advice can be given.

Working off the baby fat

The mothers who say they got back down to a size 2 just by breastfeeding. Only after having a baby of my own, did I realize that they were all full of crap.

Tucker is now almost eleven months old and although I eventually lost all of my baby weight, I can assure you it wasn’t from breastfeeding nor did it just fall off. I had to hit the pavement and sweat off every last stubborn pound. And the one thing you’ll never hear from those celebrity moms, is that you can get back down to your pre-baby weight, but you will never get back the same body you had before you became pregnant. Even though it didn’t come easy, I’ve come to terms with my wider hips, stretch marks, and saggier boobs. In fact, I’ve even begun to embrace them as badges of honor for bringing a new life into the world. And I bet you that under all the airbrushing and expensive girdles, those celeb mommies probably have a stretch mark or two of their own.

Tiffany’s designs drive home breastfeeding message

Teenager Tiffany Warriner has an eye for style and her T-shirt featuring the slogan The Best Milk’s Under Your T-shirt, Mam has been used in a city breatfeeding campaign.

The 13-year-old impressed health bosses with her witty and original design, and used the T-shirt to encourage more Sunderland mums to feed their babies themselves as part of National Breastfeeding Week.

Tiffany and a couple of friends came up with the slogan – The Best Milk’s Under Your T-shirt, Mam – during a holiday club at the school.

They met up to design T-shirts and at the request of school nurse Julie Reay, looked at how the NHS could raise awareness of breastfeeding to mothers under 25.

Mums who bottle feed ‘not given safety advice’ 

Health campaigns have stressed the benefits of breastfeeding, but new research says that lack of support for mothers who bottle feed can lead to feelings of guilt or failure. Some parents may make dangerous mistakes when preparing formula milk, because they haven’t been given information about how to bottle feed safely.

What does the new study say?

When asked in surveys, many mothers said they felt guilty for not breastfeeding, and for taking into account their own needs. About 44 percent said they were made to feel guilty for choosing to bottle feed.

Lack of information led to some potentially dangerous mistakes. A study from the United States found that a third of mothers made up formula milk with warm water from the tap, instead of using boiled water. A study from the UK found that only around half of women prepared formula according to the instructions.

The researchers also found surveys showing that between 20 and 48 percent of mothers heated bottles of formula in a microwave. This isn’t recommended, as microwaves heat liquids unevenly, leading to hotspots which could burn the baby.

NHS’ obsession with breastfeeding is putting bottle fed babies at risk.

Momfidence: Breastfeeding in a Public Pool: Necessary or Over the Top?

I’m not allowed to eat chips and salsa or a club sandwich between laps, so why should a mom be allowed to breastfeed in a public pool? There’s been a big debate about this in Canada with a bunch of mothers staging a protest.   –Shelley J

It’s a wonder breastfeeding rates are as high as they are (not all that high), given how often the act is confused with other things. Breastfeeding isn’t snacking in the messy sense of crumbs, wrappers, silverware; it’s 24/7 sustenance. Breastfeeding isn’t any more a private bodily function than any other kind of eating. Breastfeeding isn’t exhibitionism. It’s not an unusual event. It’s just a natural part of rearing a baby.

Breastfeeding reduces risk of childhood asthma (

Breastfed children are less likely to develop childhood asthma, according to a Dutch study.

The authors found that children who were breast fed for more than 16 weeks were less likely to have asthma symptoms between the ages of three and eight than those who were not breast fed.

This is the conclusion of a study involving 3115 children born in 1996/1997.

The association between breastfeeding and asthma risk was not affected by a family history of allergy.

How Change Happens

Also, advertising can’t create behavior change if the audience cannot act on the message. All the anti-obesity advertising in the world won’t impact the people of downtown Detroit where there are currently few if any supermarkets with healthy foods. Similarly, the Department of Health and Human Services ran ads telling mothers that not breastfeeding was as dangerous to their baby as riding a mechanical bull when pregnant. Not effective for many moms. More than 85 percent of mothers already know breastfeeding is best, but more than 60 percent have to go back to work in workplaces that don’t accommodate it. In both cases communications has to target something more causal to the behavior than the behavior itself — the environments that either help or hinder change.

Breastfeeding deserves support

We were at a restaurant for dinner and noticed a mother breastfeeding at a table nearby. We overheard another customer comment on how inappropriate it was and observed customers giving the breastfeeding mother unpleasant looks.

As nursing students, we have learned the importance of breastfeeding and were shocked at the customers’ reaction to this natural phenomenon. This situation led us to examine the issue of breastfeeding and voice our perspective.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada recommend that all infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life and that breastfeeding continue up to two years of age and beyond. As a nation, we have an impressive breastfeeding initiation rate of 84.5 per cent; however, the continuation rate of breastfeeding drops to 18.7 per cent within the first six months of breastfeeding initiation.

Statistics Canada shows that British Columbians have a breastfeeding initiation rate of 93.3 per cent (the national high), but only 28.8 per cent of women exclusively breastfed for the suggested six-month period, many stopping within the first few weeks after birth.

Baby Cafe helps breastfeeding mothers
EL PASO – Choosing to breastfeed or not is a decision all new mothers are forced to make.

Many moms want to do it but are afraid it will hurt; others have problems with technique.

There’s a group of El Paso women dedicated to helping new mothers, and how they’re doing it sets us apart from nearly every other city in the country.

The Baby Café in Central El Paso is run by lactation consultants and breastfeeding experts ready to help new moms take on the sometimes difficult task.

Is increased fat content of hindmilk due to the size or the number of milk fat globules? (International Breastfeeding Journal)


The results indicate that the increase in fat content results mainly from the increased number of MFGs, which may be released into the milk flow as the mammary lobe becomes progressively emptied.

Is breastfeeding advocacy anti-feminist? An essay by Katherine A. Dettwyler

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