Breastfeeding in the News: Oct. 21th – Nov. 1st, 2009

Hello All,

While here we debate the pros and cons of the H1N1 vaccine in Nigeria they are debating the pros and cons of a different vaccine – the rotavirus vaccine.  Recognizing that exclusive breastfeeding can prevent rotavirus the Nigerians are debating whether or not it would be best to spend their money on the rotavirus vaccine or other childhood killers such as malaria & AIDS.

In other international news in Burkino Faso excusive breastfeeding is frowned upon and is considered a luxury for the rich.  In England a mother has lodged a complaint saying that because her hospital refused to clip her baby’s tongue tie she is now unable to breastfeed.  The city of Toronto, Canada with the help of the local public health department and the Chinese/Vietnamese Breastfeeding Network set a new record when they got 373 babies to breastfeed at the same time!  And South Africa’s Mining Weekly reports that their unions have just negotiated a four month maternity leave with an extra three months for breastfeeding!!  Do you hear what I’m saying?  The miners in South Africa have better a maternity/breastfeeding leave than we do here in the US!  Tell that to your Senator.

Lansinoh just celebrated their 25th anniversary.  Did you know that Lansinoh was created in a mother’s kitchen?  A Boston Globe columnist insisted that because her baby weaned early it surely ok if the reader’s 7 month old weans as well. (Don’t you hate it when professional give advice based on their own personal experience.)  And a male blogger wants to know “how does a man tell his wife about how over-exposure of her breasts in public affects the way he perceives them as objects of desire?”     

In science news pacifiers have been linked to speech problems but breastfeeding appears to have no detrimental effects on speech.  Lactoferrin a component of breast milk has been found to prevent late on-set sepsis in very low birth weight infants, however the authors insist that bovine lactoferrin is more protective than the human kind, which of course makes me wonder who funded this study.

My favorite story of the week is about a Portland mother who received an award for her decade of breastfeeding activist work.  “Anybody who’s done any serious volunteer work knows that this is how it starts. You start giving a few hours a week from home. Then you make a suggestion about how to phrase a grant proposal. Then you’re drafted to actually write the thing. Then you’re meeting with senators and governors, and changing the national culture. I love the part when her 10 & 13 year old sons watch her get her award at a breakfast meeting and go off to school still proudly wearing their name tags complete with a bold breastfeeding logo.  Now that’s how you change society!

For any of you who are in New Hampshire this weekend I will be speaking at the ME/NH La Leche League conference.  In addition to “Breastfeeding in the News: The Media vs The Science” I will be doing a session on “Case Studies”.  This will be my first time doing a case study session so wish me luck, and as usual I love hearing from you!

Kathy Abbott, IBCLC

On Facebook: “Breastfeeding in the News”

My Blog:

Diarrhoea no longer a major killer in Nigeria

According to a new report released by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, diarrhoea is the second leading killer of children, killing an estimated 1.5 million each year. Diarrhoea is the condition of having frequent loose or liquid bowel movements and can be caused by bacterial infections, parasites and viral infections like rotavirus. Researchers in Nigeria, however, say that diarrhoea is not the second, but the fourth killer of children after malaria, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, they admit that diarrhoea remains a problem for children due to non-exclusive breastfeeding as was the case with little Opeyemi — poor hygiene and lack of clean water. Former minister of health and paediatrician, Adenike Grange said: “Hardly will you get a baby exclusively breastfed come down with diarrhoea; even after this period, when he/she is introduced to other foods, the immunity acquired will help. World over, paediatricians have found that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six to eight months of life will give a child antibodies that are resistant to rotavirus.”

According to her, diarrhoea is not the second highest killer of children in Nigeria, but respiratory diseases.

“I would rather the country spends money on pneumococcal vaccines, haemophila influenza, than on diarrhoea because diarrhoea is not the second killer of children. There may be a high incidence, but those children don’t die anymore. Let us conserve our funds to deal with cases that don’t have alternatives; diarrhoea has alternatives.”

Need for a vaccine?

A consultant paediatrician at Massey Street Children’s Hospital, Abieyuwa Emopkae, agreed with Dr. Grange, but advocated for the rotavirus vaccine.

“Yes, breastfeeding is effective, but you find that once a child starts crawling, he picks things from the ground and puts them into his mouth. Even in areas where you have clean water, you still get rotavirus because you can pick it up from touch,” he said. “Most children come in contact with [rotavirus] in the first year. You find out that even in developed countries where they have clean water, rotavirus is still the commonest form of infection. The vaccine is important.”

Dr. Emopkae also said that diarrhoea is not the second highest killer of children.

“In our hospital, malaria is the first killer, follow by respiratory infection, then HIV/AIDS and maybe diarrhoea follows. This is because we have, over the years, mastered how to manage diarrhoea using oral dehydration therapy and zinc.”

The UNICEF-WHO report recommends the rotavirus vaccine because it has the potential to reduce up to 40 percent of the hospital admissions that currently result from diarrhoea. But while it is affordable by the standards of developed nations, who bears the cost of supplying it to the millions of children at risk in the developing world. Dr. Grange, however, believes that Nigeria need not spend so much money on vaccines as there are other cost-effective ways of dealing with it.

“Although the vaccine will be good if we get it, but that is spending a lot of money,” she said. “I believe that there are other cost-effective and sustainable ways of dealing with it. For example, keeping the environment clean, getting clean water and using oral dehydration therapy.”

Is 7-month old ready to wean? ( Moms/ Boston Globe)

That said, having nursed for more than six months, you have already given your son a gift of immunity along with lots of other good things. So, yes, I do understand the guilt, and nursing longer might be nice, but it isn’t always possible. Some babies (mine included), are done sooner than others, and so are some moms.


Jerry Brown’s camp responds to “short-shrifting” claim

We told you yesterday about Mayor Gavin Newsom taking multiple digs at Attorney General Jerry Brown, his expected challenger for the Democratic nomination for governor, at his San Rafael town hall meeting earlier this week.

From our point of view, both men can give a little too much information. Remember, Brown recently told a roomful of San Franciscans where he was conceived, and Newsom can’t stop talking about his wife’s breastfeeding abilities. Like we said, TMI.

FACTBOX-World’s leading global health risks

A total of 10.4 million children died in 2004, mostly in low to middle-income countries. An estimated 39 percent of these deaths (4.1 million) were caused by poor nutrition, a lack of breast-feeding and preventable environmental risks.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breast mil contains antibodies that help protect infants from common illnesses.

(see link for great photos!)

Lansinoh Laboratories Celebrates 25 Years of Supporting Breastfeeding Moms

Lansinoh Marks Its Anniversary by Giving Away 25 Gift Baskets Filled with All

the Lansinoh Products That Breastfeeding Moms Have Depended on for a Quarter


Lansinoh is best known for its Lanolin nipple ointment, the company`s first
product, and still today the No. 1 product in its category for soothing,
healing, and protecting sore, cracked nipples. Rasheda Hagen, a breastfeeding
mother of two daughters, packaged ultra-pure, medical grade Lansinoh Lanolin in the kitchen of her home in 1984, when no other pure nipple ointment could be found. It is the only topical nipple ointment endorsed in the U.S. by La Leche League International. It was this Lanolin that provided the inspiration for the company`s name. Lansinoh means: Lan (lanolin) sin ("without" in Latin) oh (chemical symbol for alcohol). 

All Lansinoh products have followed in the tradition started by Hagen-made by
moms, for moms. The company`s products are created in effort to address the
growing market for breastfeeding supplies and accessories. In the U.S., this
market has grown 40 percent since 2005, according to IRI. The birth rate in the U.S. has increased to 4.3 million in 2007, up 4 percent since 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Fully 77 percent of mothers now initiate breastfeeding, according to the CDC, the highest initiation rate the U.S. has achieved to date.


To enter Lansinoh`s gift basket giveaway, moms must write about their most

rewarding breastfeeding experience in a comment on

Twenty-five winners will be randomly selected from the pool of applicants.

Deadline for submission is Nov. 21 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Winners will be announced


Portland mom becomes advocate for breast-feeding

Any fears Amelia Psmythe harbored about the impact her decade of volunteer work had on her two sons disappeared last month.

On Sept. 18, Ailim and River – they’re 10 and 13, prime squirm-with-discomfort ages — accompanied Psmythe to the Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon’s annual awards breakfast. They managed not to blush during testimonials about the importance of breast-feeding and a Facebook-unfriendly slide show of suckling babes. They beamed as the group’s annual leadership award was renamed for their mother.

Then Psmythe drove them to school. The boys kissed her goodbye, ran into class and pointedly did not remove their name tags, the ones with the unmistakable image of a mom feeding her newborn.

If Psmythe can convince her sons breast-feeding is reasonably cool – or at least not completely embarrassing – why shouldn’t she be able to win over the rest of us?

If you’ve had a baby in the past decade, or if you’ve merely smiled at one, this 38-year-old Southwest Portland mom has made your life better. As a volunteer and now leader of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon, she’s pushed hospitals, lawmakers and businesses to make nursing easier and to raise awareness about the fact that mother’s milk is the best thing for babies.

Psmythe has an activist streak dating back to women’s studies classes at Earlham College, the Quaker school in Indiana where she learned that, “the personal is political.”

Nursing her first son was easy. But when her second came along, she had questions and called the Nursing Mothers Counsel’s help line for new moms. After a volunteer helped Psmythe solve her own problem, she decided to join up. Answering calls was something she could do as a stay-at-home mom.

Anybody who’s done any serious volunteer work knows that this is how it starts. You start giving a few hours a week from home. Then you make a suggestion about how to phrase a grant proposal. Then you’re drafted to actually write the thing. Then you’re meeting with senators and governors, and changing the national culture.

In Psmythe’s case, the grant proposal was a request for $7,000 to the Multnomah County branch of Women, Infants and Children, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that helps poor women and their children. Psmythe suggested the Nursing Mothers Counsel mount an effort to educate expectant mothers about the benefits of breast-feeding, rather than waiting until after the baby is born – and mom is both exhausted and emotionally spent.

WIC said no. But more than a year later, another federal agency called. The Office of Women’s Health was starting a national breast-feeding awareness program and looking for local programs to support. Somehow, they’d received Psmythe’s rejected grant application. They gave the Nursing Mothers Counsel $25,000.

Psmythe popped in a video for the kids and went to work. She hasn’t stopped since.

“I guess it’s like most things, you learn as you go,” she said. “I went from a trembling voice to very confident to … well, it might be fair to say we’re making a difference.”

Quite a difference. By 2007, every hospital in Portland had agreed to stop sending new moms home with bags of formula, a big step on the road toward making breast-feeding the norm rather than merely an option. In 2008, the Oregon Legislature required businesses to give mothers time to nurse or pump at work. This summer, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced a similar national bill.

There is still plenty to do. The formula companies spend millions upon millions each year to make their product seem as natural as mother’s milk. Each day, thousands of new parents give up nursing because they’re tired and frustrated.

But Psmythe and a growing army of moms are changing the law and, more importantly, societal attitudes. Just look at her boys, and those name tags they didn’t take off.

Anna Griffin

Kate Gosselin Answers Questions in New Special Tonight

She’ll also talk about breastfeeding, which she managed to do for the sextuplets the entire time they were in the NICU. “You could have called me the local Dairy Queen,” she said. “It gave me great pride to give them liquid gold, and I firmly believe in it.”

Sex Talk: To Remain Objects of desire, breasts need some privacy

One doctor whose wife has breast cancer said during an online interview that with the news about the disease come great anxieties about what could happen to the sex. But no man dares discuss that with a wife facing a mastectomy. He wouldn’t want to be labelled too sex-minded.

Similarly, how does a man tell his wife about how over-exposure of her breasts in public affects the way he perceives them as objects of desire?
The more a woman covers up and retains a degree of mystery about herself, the more sexually challenging she is – or so the men say.

Motherhood requires cleanliness, lest it turns you into an undesirable, pretty, dirty woman always smelling of breast milk. In fact, my mother always jokes that you can only certify a neat woman after she has had a child or two.

Do you know the smell of breast milk on fabric? Fish mixed with boiled eggs smell better!

Keep your hubby interested; look after those breasts.

Some feminist must be arguing now: “Shya! That is turning women into sex objects!”
Yeah right. If you are in a marriage, then accept the fact that you are very much an object of sexual desire too!

Toronto wins world record for breastfeeding

On Oct. 3, mothers and babies at hundreds of sites across Canada and around the world competed to set a record for the most babies breastfeeding at one time.

In Toronto, 190 mothers and 191 hungry infants and toddlers gathered at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts to participate in this year’s challenge.

Another 182 mothers and babies in the city participated online for a total of 372 mothers and 373 babies breastfeeding at the same time.

This was all part of World Breastfeeding Week in Canada.

Toronto’s participation was organized by Toronto Public Health and the Chinese/Vietnamese Breastfeeding Network.

Sutton mum cannot breast feed her baby after hospital delay

Millie Hammond, who is now three weeks old, from Carshalton, has a condition called tongue-tie, which means her tongue is held down by a membrane, making it impossible for her to be breastfed.

The midwife at St Helier Hospital, where Millie’s mother Nicola Russell, 33, gave birth, spotted the condition on the same day she was born, but Miss Russell was told the procedure to cure Millie could not be performed at the hospital for several weeks.

Miss Russell said: “I was desperate to breastfeed my little girl, but I couldn’t and now I really can’t because I don’t have any more milk. “I’m really angry and disappointed. “I was given a leaflet with other centres to go to, Bourne Hall and Dorking Medical Centre, but they all turned me down.

“They said they didn’t receive funding from Sutton so I could not have it done there. We were told to go private, but we couldn’t afford it. It would cost £100.


Breastfeeding Challenge

Among the participating communities was Taloyoak, where roughly 14 mothers took part, according to community health worker Annie Buchan. The event consisted of eating healthy snacks and watching presentations about the benefits of breastfeeding, including a history of breastfeeding in Inuit culture.

“It’s a traditional way for Inuit for thousands of years,” Buchan said. “If we didn’t have breastfeeding, we wouldn’t be here.”

Burkina Faso – exclusive breastfeeding comes up against the obstacle of tradition

Interviews conducted with 1,000 women, fathers and childbirth professionals have shown that exclusive breastfeeding is a practice frowned upon, indeed unthinkable and considered to be alien to Burkina Faso. It’s as simple as that!

Researchers were indeed surprised to discover that some mothers went so as far as to give their infants water mixed with ashes, plants or sugar in the belief that these concoctions would help cure, purify and avert death …

Marcel Bengaly, the biochemist and nutritionist who coordinated the study, believes that breastfeeding is perceived as a luxury reserved for the rich. In fact, the main obstacle to changing breastfeeding practices appears to be a reluctance to abandon tradition. Women recognise the value of their breast milk, but for them the leap from this to breastfeeding only is a step too far.

Lengthy Pacifier Use can lead to Speech Problems

Delaying bottle use until at least 9 months old reduced the risk of developing a speech disorder, researchers found. But children who sucked their thumb, fingers or used a pacifier for more than three years were three times as likely to develop speech impediments. Breastfeeding did not have a detrimental effect on speech development.

“The development of coordinated breathing, chewing, swallowing and speech articulation has been shown to be associated with breastfeeding. It is believed that breastfeeding promotes mobility, strength and posture of the speech organs,” the authors wrote.


NUM demands 20% wage increase, rejects Lonmin’s 6,5% offer

Mining Weekly / Johannesburg, South Africa

Although a wage agreement has not yet been reached, the parties have agreed on providing employees two days study leave as well as seven months paid maternity leave, which comprises of four months paid leave plus an additional three months paid leave for breastfeeding, the NUM said.

Milk protein may protect premature babies from infection

Supplements of the milk protein lactoferrin alone or in combination with a probiotic the reduced incidence of infection in pre-term babies, says a new study.

Very low birth-weight infants assigned to receive lactoferrin supplements, alone or with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), could reduce the incidence of late-onset sepsis by over 12 per cent, according to results of a randomised trial from Italy.

“Infections are the most common cause of death in premature infants and a major threat for poor outcomes,” wrote the authors in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Late-onset sepsis, or infections that arise around the time of the birth, mainly occur in the hospital and are said to affect about 20 per cent of very low birth-weight babies, said the authors.

The study found that the incidence of late-onset sepsis in the infants supplemented with lactoferrin from cow’s milk was 5.9 per cent, while the incidence in infants receiving lactoferrin plus LGG was 4.6 per cent. On the other hand, 17.3 per cent of the infants in the placebo group developed an infection, said the researchers, led by Paolo Manzoni of S. Anna Hospital in Torino.

“Prevention of neonatal sepsis relies on hygiene measures, cautious use of invasive procedures, medication stewardship, administration of fresh maternal milk, and early diagnosis,” wrote Manzoni and his co-workers.

“Nevertheless, none of these interventions is fully effective in decreasing the burden of the disease and overall have not been subjected to randomized controlled trials.

“This study has demonstrated that supplemental bovine lactoferrin, either alone or in combination with LGG, reduces first episodes of late-onset sepsis in very-low birth weight infants,” they added.

Ingredient info

Lactoferrin that is an important component of human breast milk has struggled to communicate its immune system-boosting health benefits to the public and compete against other commodity protein fractions such as whey which sell at a fraction of the price of lactoferrin.

Estimates put the global market for the ingredient that counts Japan and South Korea among its biggest markets at little more than €20m.

In those markets it is popular in milk drinks and food supplements but health claims are rarely made – products simply flag the presence of lactoferrin.

Study details

The researchers included 472 very low birth weight infants, meaning a birth weight less than 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). The infants were randomly assigned to one of three groups, one received the lactoferrin (100 mg/d, LF100 by Dicofarm SpA), one received lactoferrin (100 mg/d) plus LGG (6 billion cfu/d, Dicofarm SpA), and the third received a placebo for the first 30 days of their lives.

The decrease in the incidence of late-onset sepsis was observed for both bacterial and fungal sepsis, said the researchers. Furthermore, the risk of death attributable to sepsis was significantly lower in the two groups, added the researchers. Importantly, no adverse effects were recorded.

“Given the high homology between human lactoferrin and bovine lactoferrin, it might be argued that supplemented bovine lactoferrin overlaps with maternal milk in protecting against sepsis,” said the researchers.

“However, in untreated infants the incidence rates of late-onset sepsis were similar in those fed exclusively maternal milk versus exclusively formula; furthermore, the decrease in late-onset sepsis episodes in treated infants was comparable regardless of the type of milk feeding.

“Thus, maternal milk alone does not confer the benefits of bovine lactoferrin supplementation. This implies the need for additional lactoferrin, specifically to prevent late-onset sepsis,” they added.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume 302, Issue 13, Pages 1421-1428
“Association for Research in Otolaryngology’s annual conference in BaltimoreBovine Lactoferrin Supplementation for Prevention of Late-Onset Sepsis in Very Low-Birth-Weight Neonates: A Randomized Trial”
Authors: P. Manzoni, M. Rinaldi, S. Cattani, L. Pugni, M.G. Romeo, et al.


1 Comment

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One response to “Breastfeeding in the News: Oct. 21th – Nov. 1st, 2009

  1. Kathy,

    I assume you’re keeping a master list of all of these articles somewhere? I really hope so; you’ve amassed an incredible compilation of information.


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