Tag Archives: Nestles

Breastfeeding in the News: April 21st – 30th, 2010

In a move straight out of a Hollywood movie leaflets denouncing Nestle’s flagrant disregard for the WHO Code dropped through a hole in the ceiling of the Palais recently and floated onto the table in front of the startled Nestle executives below.  Nestle indignantly responded by insisting that they abide by the law in all countries and that in fact they had received very few complaints about their marketing of infant formula.Governments are not making these calls, Nestle abides by the law in every country.” This should serve as a reminder to the rest of us that it is the law of the land that carries the greatest weight.  Unfortunately thirty plus years of boycotting hasn’t even made Nestle blink.

The incident reminded me of a meeting of Human Resource executives that I attended a few years ago.  I was there pitching a lactation support program for businesses.  After enthusiastically touting the benefits of supporting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace (“Companies save $3 for every $1 spent on breastfeeding support.”), one HR woman interrupted me and asked point blank, “Is there a law requiring this?”  There was no law, and the discussion was quickly dropped. 

Happily today there is a new federal law but as I mentioned before the details still have to be worked out.  It is interesting to note that prior to this law the issues of work breaks was covered by state laws only. “Until this amendment, rest break requirements had been the subject of state regulation.So this is new territory for federal law makers. Luckily state and local laws will still supersede the federal rules which means that Oregon’s $1,000 fine for each missed “breast milk expression session” will still stand, and employees in Monterey will still receive extra training and support. 

In science news HAMLET a component of breast milk now believed to kill 40 different types of cancer cells including bladder cancer is being touted as the next big thing in cancer research.   HAMLETs which are formed by “combining alpha-lactalbumin in the milk and oleic acid which is found in babies’ stomachs,” are remarkable not just for their ability to kill cancer but also the way they leave all healthy cells intact.  In other science news another study noted that babies who were breastfed showed better lung capabilities which were still measurable at 8 years of age.  A study showing that obese women who got extra breastfeeding counseling not only breastfed longer they their babies had fewer fevers and upper respiratory infections and were 3.5 times less likely to be hospitalized during their first 3 months of life.”  Across the pond the Brits just held their first conference exploring the benefits of breastfeeding for babies with developmental disabilities!  I would love to see more of that done here.

In Uganda they noted a suspicious rise in breast cancer in younger women. The same article noted that, “Breastfeeding also changes the make-up of a mother’s breast cells, making them more resistant to cancer.”  And that “Breastfeeding will also rid the breast toxins like carcinogens that are likely to cause cancer in the future.”  While I’m glad to see them put in a plug for breastfeeding I’m not entirely sure they got this exactly right.  Can any of my more knowledgeable readers set me straight on this?  And while we’re talking about Uganda I’m happy to report that the issue of breastfeeding mothers in prison has been looked into, and that mothers now receive their own special cells.  This is one of those times when the child’s rights supersede the mother’s.

For years we’ve been pushing for more breastfeeding using evidence based studies as our strongest ally, but we tend to ignore any evidence showing that breast milk often contains toxin.   One author insists, “Were it regulated like infant formula, the breast milk of many US mothers would not be able to be legally sold on supermarket shelves.”  We find ourselves in the delicate position of ignoring the canary in the mine (canaries would die from the poisoned air before the effects on miners could be noticed), and still trying to convince society to accept breastfeeding as normal.  As blogger Anna Fahey puts it “The choice is a personal one, but a choice there should be! And it should never be a question of choosing the lesser of two evils. We have a shared responsibility to safeguard the basic human right to grow up untainted by damaging chemicals.”

An interesting study in Australia showed that positive interest in breastfeeding did not mean that mothers would breastfeed longer.  And to answer the question, “What do women really want?” the answer was clearly that they wanted more support.  In fact, “It is not important what people close to them think about their decision to breastfeed, what is important is the support they receive.” This may sound like a conundrum but I totally get it.  My mother constantly questioned me about my decision to breastfeed but at the same time she did everything she could to help make it work.  She even vocally defended me against all nay sayers as she would not tolerate any criticisms from others.  That was her job!  (Speaking of grandmothers I totally applaud a local health department’s decision to host a “Grandmother’s Tea … to educate, influence and encourage Grandmothers’ support of breastfeeding.”)

As always the conversation about breastfeeding continues. From car seat analogies, to letters to tv news producers (by the way ABC news got slammed for using a doctor known for accepting money from formula companies as one of their “expert opinions” on a breastfeeding piece), to books for fathers (“Breastfeeding Facts For Fathers” Platypus Media), to celebrity complaints about breastfeeding police everyone has an opinion.  What is most interesting to me is the way the conversation is being portrayed in the movies and on TV.  As breastfeeding infants becomes more accepted there has been a trend towards making more jokes about breastfeeding the older child.    One piece took this to the farthest extreme with a really funny bit about a mother nursing her 30 year old son (“I Want My Bitty”).  And I have to admit I loved Pam’s return to work on the “Office” and the moment when she realized she was feeling engorged.  Not being able to find her breast pump (a non-lactating coworker had slipped off to the bathroom to give it a try -“Wow. This is like the Cadillac of breast pumps!”) her coworker Dwight who was brought up on a farm offers to assist her with hand expression, “Three squeezes and I would drain you.”  

But if you only have time to read one story today make it “A Unique Challenge to Breastfeeding” by Michael Wuebben a CBS News producer.  He tells the loving story of how his own child was born with a rare medical condition that left the baby physically unable to move his facial muscles, and how the child’s mother never gave up on breastfeeding.  It is beautifully written and adds a potent counter weight to all those stories we hear from mothers who “had to give up” for reasons x, y, and z.

As always I love hearing from you (remember links to all the stories are below).  I hope you all had a Mother’s Day that was as pleasant as mine.  My daughter made a poster filled with pictures of the two of us and across the top she wrote “Best Friends”.  I couldn’t ask for anything more than that! 

Kathy Abbott IBCLC


On Facebook:” Breastfeeding in the News”           

The risks of non-compliance with Oregon’s milk expression law

Penalties for noncompliance are similar to those that may be assessed for other wage and hour violations, and may be as high as $1,000 per missed breast milk expression session, possibly as much as $2,000 on an average work day. There is no statute of limitations regarding when an employee may file a complaint.

… But for some women working in places that are slow to change, they fear they would be asking their employer for too much or inconveniencing their colleagues. In addition some women just don’t feel comfortable discussing breast milk expression with their direct supervisor or human resources department. Even with all these progressive reforms the burden is on working women.

Marion Rice is workplace lactation support specialist with the Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon.


Almeda County to lower flags in remembrance of Livermore baby (San Jose Mercury News)  

Police arrested Jessica Adams last week on suspicion of murder after a yearlong investigation. Police said during that time, they learned she had been continually smoking methamphetamine for four days leading up to Gary’s death. She had not slept at all during that time, and when she finally fell asleep on March 19, Gary was with her on the couch.

Police say Adams told them she had stopped breastfeeding the baby March 12 because she planned on using the drug.


Most Hilarious Breastfeeding video ever!

Sometimes we all need a little laugh though, right? And so, in the interest of easing a little breastfeeding debate tension, check out this clip from the UK comedy Little Britain. The episode is called “Meet the Parents.” But it should be called “I Want My Bitty!


BBC News: Cultural Barrier to breastfeeding older children

“Once I gave birth to Jonathan and I started breastfeeding, I thought we’ll just get to six months and then I thought we’ll go to a year and then it never stopped.

“And here I am five years on. It became a natural thing.”

“I’m a firm believer that Jonathan should choose his own path in life,” she said.

Ms Hurst said breastfeeding Jonathan would stop when he lost the ability to suckle as his milk teeth fell out


Does breastfeeding protect against asthma? (Reuters)

The extended and exclusive diet of breast milk also resulted in better lung function at age 8, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology


Ugandan News: Conservative Party calls for special (jail) cells for breastfeeding mothers

The President of CP says the breastfeeding mothers jailed at Luzira prison have told him that they are finding it hard to produce enough milk for their babies because of the poor meals.

Inmates at Luzira and other prisons in Uganda get one meal a day at 2:00pm and a cup of porridge at 8:00am daily. The major food they get is posho and beans.


First UK conference to address benefits of breastfeeding for babies with developmental disabilities

Dr Roja Sooben at the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work has organised the conference  called,  Breastfeeding infants with developmental disabilities – let’s talk about it!, which will take place at the University on 11th  May.


The Day WHEN breast isn’t BEST

But as Sandra Steingraber (author, biologist, and breastfeeding advocate who’s written and lectured extensively on the subject) points out, breast milk commonly violates Food and Drug Administration levels for poisonous substances in food. She writes: “Were it regulated like infant formula, the breast milk of many US mothers would not be able to be legally sold on supermarket shelves.”

…The choice is a personal one, but a choice there should be! And it should never be a question of choosing the lesser of two evils. We have a shared responsibility to safeguard the basic human right to grow up untainted by damaging chemicals. Put another way, chemical risks in today’s environment aren’t a matter of choice; they’re an assault on basic rights.


A Unique Challenge to Breastfeeding

Michael Wuebben is a CBSNews.com senior producer overseeing video production and original video programming.

Finally we knew something. He couldn’t suck because he couldn’t move the muscles of his face. He didn’t react because his muscles were weak and he couldn’t blink.


Monterey County Adopts breastfeeding Policy

Existing law provides for unpaid break time and appropriate facilities for lactating employees to express milk for their infant children. The Monterey County policy includes additional provisions for training and support to maximize the benefits of breastfeeding for employees and their children.



New Book: Fathers Critical to Success of Breastfeeding

One key message in Breastfeeding Facts for Fathers (Platypus Media, 2009, 41 pages) is made quite clear upfront: You are critical to the success of breastfeeding

In fact, the book cites a study showing that when fathers are completely supportive of breastfeeding, mothers working outside the home breastfeed 98% of the time, compared to mothers whose partners were indifferent to breastfeeding, who breastfeed 26.9% of the time.  The book also notes that the father is the “first person to show his baby that feeding does not equal love.”


Kate Ford

But the 32-year-old is loving her new role as a mum – although she is not a fan of the breastfeeding police. She said: “I didn’t breastfeed. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it just didn’t work for me.“I did manage to express some milk for Otis for the first few months, though. “The thing about the breastfeeding police is that they bring so much guilt to women that don’t manage to, or aren’t able to breastfeed. “I think that’s a shame. “Breastfeeding is the most healthy thing, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t do it. “If it doesn’t work for you, don’t cut yourself up about it.“It’s more important for your baby to be with a happy, contented mother – not one who’s distressed because she can’t breastfeed.”


Breastfeeding: Why the Controversy?  

If I had a dime for every blog post, news article, or discussion I’ve had regarding breastfeeding over the last eight years, I’d be a rich woman.  

My personal advice to mom’s who are concerned about breastfeeding is the following:

  • Screw the store clerks. If your baby is hungry, feed him.
  • Stop breastfeeding when you want to stop breastfeeding. Guess what, I breastfed my children until they were…. oh wait IT DOESN’T MATTER. My kids are not yours so it doesn’t matter what I did. And guess what? I don’t care how long you breastfeed yours, whether it’s for one year or five.
  • If people don’t like the breastfeeding photos you post on your Facebook profile, they don’t have to look at them.
  • Call your HR person. That’s right, the laws they are a changin’. This country is attempting to make itself more family friendly and one way they’re doing that is by requiring your company to make it possible for you to breastfeed. If your boss doesn’t like it, tell him to call congress and complain, but leave you to your business. And clarify that it’s YOUR business not his.

When will we finally reach a point in society that says “breast is best, end of story”?


Are today’s young women more at risk?

Kampala Uganda— THE Ministry of Health recently announced that there is an increase in the cases of breast cancer among women less than 40 years of age. Reports show that the age trend of breast cancer has changed from 40-50 years to 30-40 years of age, compared to the Western world, where the diagnosis is still among the old – 50-plus years.

Murokora says breastfeeding helps by reducing the oestrogen levels in the body. Oestrogen increases a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. Breastfeeding also changes the make-up of a mother’s breast cells, making them more resistant to cancer. Breastfeeding will also rid the breast toxins like carcinogens that are likely to cause cancer in the future.


It’s okay to stop breastfeeding.

I feel like the breastfeeding issue is almost as polarizing as the last presidential election in this country.


Peer counseling, support can improve breastfeeding success in obese women

++++Conn. 154 puerta rican –

predominantly Puerto Rican, low-income, and had less than a high-school education For instance, women in the ‘intervention’ group were visited three times in their homes during late pregnancy and 11 more times in the first few months after birth. Whereas 16% and 46% of the women in the ‘control’ group had stopped breastfeeding by 2 and 8 weeks postpartum, respectively, only 7% and 33% of the women in the ‘intervention’ group had stopped++++++

And to add even more bang for the buck, babies of mothers who received the extra counseling were 3.5 times less likely to be hospitalized during their first 3 months of life. This was mostly due to lower rates of respiratory infections and fever.


Khloe Kardashian wants to start breastfeeding someone after seeing the weight drop off her sister Kourtney

“If that’s all it takes, breastfeeding? Then someone breastfeed off of me! I don’t care,” joked Khloe in an interview with Us magazine.


Nursing can be a challenge for working moms

Companies save $3 for every $1 spent on breastfeeding support.


The Back Up Plan (Movie Review) – Pregnant with Problems

The biggest laughs come from the ingloriousness of being pregnant and giving birth, but their overworked bits — like home birth and a toddler breastfeeding — are all gags we’ve seen and heard before


United States: FLSA Amended to Require Breaks and Space to Express Breast Milk for Nursing Mothers

Until this amendment, rest break requirements had been the subject of state regulation. The FLSA does not require employers to provide breaks or meal periods to workers. Unless rest breaks are required by state law, when and how they are provided has traditionally been a matter of agreement between the employer and employee.


Keeping the Breastfeeding Conversation Going

We got a lot of great response from our recent video segment “The Challenges of Breastfeeding.”

Again, we love the “100 letters” challenge. Please leave comments below on this blog post and let us know what you thought of the piece. And also share your ideas for future Health and Wellness segments.


Mums need more support


Friday, 23 April 2010
Queensland University of TechnologyJoy Parkinson“Ms Parkinson said if governments wanted to increase breastfeeding rates they needed to increase loyalty to the act of breastfeeding and this would be best achieved by encouraging support from family and friends.”

“There needs to be a more mother-centred approach as opposed to a baby-centred approach,” she said.

“One of the most surprising things that came out of this study was that positive attitudes towards breastfeeding didn’t equate to larger numbers of women breastfeeding for longer.”


Health Department to hold Grandmother’s Tea (IL)

Michele Beckstrom, RN of the Health Department notes, “This Grandmother’s Tea is being held to educate, influence and encourage Grandmothers’ support of breastfeeding.”


The Office Review: “Secretary’s Day”

It’s the third week now. Dwight prepping to help Pa , Meredith using her apparatus in the bathroom … how long can the writers milk (har har) the breastfeeding jokes?

Dwight: Three squeezes and I would drain you.

Meredith: This is like the Cadillac of breast pumps


Breastfeed for the Health of the Nation?

Not nursing has major societal and health consequences — but even so, mothers deserve our support and understanding, not our judgment.

Ellen Painter Dollar, guest blogger

While 43 percent of American mothers do some breastfeeding, only 12 percent breastfeed exclusively for the first six months as recommended. Advocates argue that breastfeeding’s life-saving qualities should convince mothers to do it, and everyone else to support them, without all the drama about choices and guilt. The blogger Feminist Breeder, for example, had this to say: “You know what else saves lives? Car seats. So, why aren’t people spitting mad at the [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] for saying that? Why aren’t they leaving thousands of comments on car seat articles saying, ‘But I just couldn’t afford a car seat, why are you trying to make me feel guilty?!’ Well, maybe it’s because our society will admit that car seats save lives, and we’re willing to give them out free at fire stations and hospitals if we have to because it is that important.”

…This latest study makes clear that nursing is much more than a personal lifestyle choice the rest of us have no obligation to support. New mothers need hospital policies that give priority to breastfeeding; low-cost or insurance-covered lactation assistance; paid maternity leave; flexible workplace policies; and husbands, relatives, friends and neighbors who help care for other children and manage the household during an infant’s first months.

…Because breastfeeding involves unpredictable, limited human bodies, it is not directly comparable to life-saving technologies. Using an infant car seat, for example, does not require a mother to wake up every 90 minutes throughout the night, grit her teeth as her baby latches onto sore nipples, and lock herself in a bathroom stall at work to attach a mechanical contraption to sensitive body parts (although the recent health-care overhaul, which requires large employers to provide a private, non-bathroom space for women to pump breast milk, should make this task less unpleasant for some).


Why this Earth mother hates Earth Day

“I see Earth Day as the new Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, a Hallmark holiday for us to give lip service to the environment. There are contrary forces, good in the mix – but then there are good things in the mix of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or Valentines as well. But the reality of Mother’s Day doesn’t seem to be that it inspires us to be more respectful of the needs of mothers – what comes out of Mother’s Day isn’t more calls for breastfeeding stations and child friendly policies, but a “we told you we loved you last Sunday…aren’t we done yet?” The same is true of Valentines Day – there’s no compelling reason to believe that once a year special chocolates and sex really do all that much to lower the national divorce rate.”


Breastfeeding Advocates Red-Flag ABC News Story

(April 21) — An international breastfeeding advocacy group is accusing ABC News of failing to reveal that a pediatrician it quoted in a report critical of a breastfeeding study is a formula industry spokeswoman.

ABC News did not respond to several e-mails sent by AOL News to its media relations department for comment. Beard said she was called by an ABC News reporter for comment and was not asked about her industry ties, which she noted are “open information,” or available online.

She said she does not believe her work for Nestle “had any relevance to this comment” she made in the ABC News report.


Breast Milk Kills Cancer Claim Scientists

Mothers should breastfeed their babies because a substance in their milk kills cancer, researchers claim.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:00PM BST 20 Apr 2010

The same compound, Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells or HAMLET, could be a common cancer treatment for adults within five years.

Human trials have shown HAMLET can kill bladder cancer and laboratory tests have found it kills 40 different types of cancer. But crucially, the chemical does not kill healthy cells which means it does not cause the nasty side effects of current chemotherapy treatments.  “HAMLET is produced by combining alpha-lactalbumin in the milk and oleic acid which is found in babies’ stomachs,” he said.


Nestle Challeneged on baby milk health claims

By Lorraine Heller, 21-Apr-2010

Related topics: Health claims, Industry, Maternal & infant health

Greenpeace activists cut through the ceiling of the Palais in Lausanne, dropping flyers and absailing above the audience, while shareholders were also addressed by a baby milk activist who claimed the firm is still not abiding by marketing standards adopted by the World Health Assembly.

Patti Rundall, OBE, policy director at Baby Milk Action, said the health claims Nestle was using on its infant formula were misleading and putting the health of babies at risk. She called on Nestle shareholders to “try and find a way to bring an end to this interminable problem that is causing so much harm to children.”

Nestle this morning reiterated to NutraIngredients that it abides by the law in every country where it sells its products.

‘Protect’ is misleading

Rundall, who was able to speak at the shareholder meeting as she owns 200 Nestle shares, said she represented “thousands of citizens and IBFAN (International Baby Food Action Network) groups around the world who monitor the marketing of baby foods”.

Rundall specifically took issue with the health claims being made on the firm’s infant formula and called for the company to remove the ‘Protect’ logo from the product labels. She also said the labels should carry the correct warning language, which alerts parents to potential intrinsic bacterial contamination of the product.

Abiding by laws

Nestle said its ‘Protect’ range of products and its infant formulas are sold in over 100 countries around the world. “To date, other than via Baby Milk Action, no other complaint about the logo’s potential to mislead mothers has been received,” said the company.

It added that the action group was the only one to be calling for the firm to stop making nutrition and health claims. Governments are not making these calls, Nestle abides by the law in every country.”

Nestle told NutraIngredients that “there has been very little pressure (on its infant formula marketing practices) for a number of years” and that calls to stop making health claims on its infant formula are unique to Baby Milk Action.

Rundall responded that 23 health professionals and mother support groups in the UK alone are calling for the removal of health claims, which, she claims, is in line with Codex regulations.  


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Breastfeeding in the News: Feb. 20 – Feb. 28, 2010

Trust, the cornerstone of the mother and baby relationship is now on sale in liquid form.  Just spray on a little perfume laden with oxytocin, and voila, instant trust!   Liquid Trust is the first atmosphere enhancement spray to contain Oxytocin, a human hormone that increases trust between people. According to the company, the user just applies the product in the morning no different than he/she would apply cologne or purfume. Then throughout the day everyone they come in contact with will detect the ingredient Oxytocin in the Liquid Trust causing people around them to have a strong feeling of trust.”  I have to wonder who will be buying more of this –teenage boys trying to get their parents to give them the keys to car or stock brokers trying to lure people back to the stock market?

I’m always fascinated by the way marketers put a spin on their advertising which is why this week I’ve included a press release from a plastic surgeon offering “mommy makeovers” for “military moms” who according to the release might be worried about having lost their “perkiness” after breastfeeding.   But the award for best spin of the week would have to go to Mr. Levitt the MP in England who after it was revealed that he had accepted tickets to Wimbledon and airfare to South Africa for a fact finding mission from infant formula maker Nestles stated: “It is right to have close relations with important local companies.” and “Nestle is amongst the most ethical of traders in this field.”  

While we’re talking about England I found a story about young mothers in prison that is positively medieval. Mothers in chains while receiving ob care?  What century is this?  But I’m not sure what to make of the story about a woman who claims she was thrown off a bus for breastfeeding.  The bus company says it never happened while she stands by her story.  Also from the UK a new study reports that only 44% of mothers think “breast is best” while 19% think the needs of the mother should come first and 16% think it’s the baby’s needs that should be given first priority.  I think the way the issue has been framed “baby’s needs vs. mother’s needs” speaks volumes about why so few mothers breastfeed.  Too many people think of breastfeeding as an all or nothing scenario, while far too few see the possibilities for compromise that make up a mother’s day to day life.

In Ireland a new study found that mothers would like post partum home visits 7 days a week, not just 5.  While many of you may be jealous that they are getting any home visits at all, I think this points to a larger issue that really needs to be addressed.  Babies do not take weekends off!  You can find the same problem here in the United States.  In most hospitals there are very few Lactation Consultants (often none) working during the weekends, especially Sundays.  I’ve had many clients who gave birth late in the week report that there was no LC available to see them before they went home.

In political news the Iowa Senate passed a bill supporting reasonable accommodations in the workplace for breastfeeding mothers, but not without a fight.  Apparently all the republican senators unanimous voted against it.  Talk about your knee jerk reactions, they had absolutely no data to support their argument that the measure would be too costly for businesses and they still voted against it.  Meanwhile on the other side of the world in China the BMAIC (“Bejing Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce”) have been pointing fingers at companies violating the WHO Code.  Can you imagine if our department of Commerce ever did that here?  What would those republicans in Iowa do then?

While we’re talking about WHO Code violators, in Sri Lanka formula companies are being accused of throwing lavish parties in five star hotels as part of their aggressive marketing of ‘growing up milk powder’ otherwise known as “GUMP”.  I must confess I love the acronym, it makes it sound like a horribly nasty tasting lumpy oatmeal!  Speaking of nasty tasting there is a report from Haiti of starving older children so hungry that they must resort to drinking infant formula.  Says physician Doc Gurley “…any toddler (or older child) who is so desperate for food that they’ll drink a pre-packed bottle of infant formula can have it on the spot (those things taste so gross it’s unbelievable),…”.  For more insight into what is happening in Haiti at the moment read her blog post.  It’s long but rich in detail and incredibly moving! (I hope she writes a book about her experience some day.)

In unhappy news lactivists lost an ally at the UN this week with the passing of Ihsan Dogramaci a man who was a firm supporter of breastfeeding and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.  Even worse in Mexico pesticides spraying has been reported to have caused an interruption in the breast development of adolescent girls leaving them unable to breastfeed later in life.  And in a different story one blogger questions the existence of atheists and agnostics in La Leche League, saying she has never found any in the organization.  (You might think about sending your comments to her directly on this one.)

I found two stories to be filled under “can we look at this a different way?”  The first is a glowing article about a study trying to find the connection between breast milk and the body’s ability to change the fatty acids found in flax seed to the more complex acids found in fish oil.  The study’s participants are reported to be extremely happy to be part of study showing yet another advantage of human milk, but I fear they are being duped.  It seems the real purpose of the study is promote the use of flax seed oil not breast milk.  The second article is about the anecdotal reports that women ingesting encapsulated placentas have lower incidents of postpartum depression.  Whether or not there is any truth to this I don’t know.  What bothered me was that this was presented not just as an alternative to taking antidepressant during breastfeeding but that breastfeeding while on antidepressant was not feasible.  “…do you go on medications to deal with your depression? Or do you continue to breastfeed your baby?”   Most antidepressants are safe for breastfeeding mothers, please don’t let this myth continue.

In the “Odds and Ends” department the new documentary about babies coming out in April has been given a PG rating instead of a G because of the breastfeeding scenes (we can’t let our little one see that can we).  An article about the quality of news on the internet posed this question, “Is an expert essay on breastfeeding on iVillage more valuable to someone seeking out that information than a mom of three writing from Des Moines?” And from a blog in the Boston Globe there was another story questioning the need for a mother who was given the wrong baby to breastfeed to sue her hospital.  This no harm done attitude really irks me.  How else do we get hospitals to understand that this kind of mix up is totally irresponsible?  If they had operated on the wrong leg wouldn’t you sue?

This has been a long post so I want to end on a happy note. Dr. Jack Newman wanted to let everyone know about a long term study out of Australia which has found that babies breastfed over six months had lasting benefits to their mental and emotional life that could still be measured at ages 2, 5, 8, 10 & 14 years of age!  Even better, for every month that breastfeeding continued their behavior improved.  Look for more about this story in my column in La Leche League International’s new free online journal “Breastfeeding Today” which will be making its grand debut later this month. 

As always I love to hear from you, and thanks so much for reading my work. (And remember the links to all the stories are below.)

Kathy Abbott IBCLC


On Facebook:” Breastfeeding in the News”    

Pesticide exposure deprives Yaqui girls of breastfeeding – ever  (Sonora Valley Mexico)

Guillette’s latest research finds that some pre-adolescent daughters of mothers exposed to pesticide spraying will never be able to breast-feed their babies. With others there is uncertainty. Although there is breast growth, some daughters lacked development of the mammary tissue needed to produce milk, or developed a minimal amount.

As the girls in the exposed group matured, their breast size became much larger than normal, yet they had less mammary tissue and often none at all, while the unexposed girls were normal.


Powdered milk giants batter the breast and break guidelines with five-star parties  (Sri Lanka)

The breast vs bottle battle for the “young child” has taken a new turn, with milk giants resorting to various insidious and unethical methods to promote their products, sending shockwaves in health circles.
Such modus operandi by the milk giants in their race to catch the “young child”, especially those who have celebrated their first birthday, includes tamashas at five-star hotels with product launches (euphemistically called introductions) thrown in for eminent gatherings of medical personnel including policy-makers, all expenses paid junkets to foreign destinations to attend medical meetings and misleading advertisements in the media to tempt mothers, the Sunday Times understands.

Even though knowing well that the policy and recommendations of the government are to promote exclusive breastfeeding within the first six months after birth, then begin complementary feeding with such foods as a home-made multi-mix along with breastfeeding and gradually increase the solid food intake of the young child while breastfeeding up to two years, the milk companies are in a race to promote “growing up milk powder” (GUMP) among one-year-olds although there is inadequate scientific evidence of their usefulness, lamented a respected paediatrician.


This film is rated B – for babies

The 80-minute documentary is almost entirely without dialogue, meaning that babies themselves might even like it. The film is rated PG, mainly for nudity related to breastfeeding (Whether a breast-at-work merits a PG is quite another story).


Do placenta pills beat back the baby blues?

Wendy Gordon told KATU News that “there’s a decision that has to come up often; that do you go on medications to deal with your depression? Or do you continue to breastfeed your baby?”

Many women who go on medication for depression stop breastfeeding in order to not pass the medication onto their child through breast milk. But with placenta pills, there’s no risk to the baby


Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on the death of Professor Ihsan Dogramaci

A paediatrician by profession, Professor Dogramaci was both a man of science and of deep humanity. For the past half century, he has played a key role in global efforts to improve child survival, in particular as a staunch and vocal advocate of immunization, breastfeeding and baby- friendly hospitals.


Breastfeeding Bristol mother ‘made up story she was thrown off bus’

When the Post visited Miss Wootten, 25, yesterday to ask her to explain the CCTV footage from the bus she was adamant that the incident had happened the way she had originally recounted it.


Haiti Faux Pas

“…any toddler (or older child) who is so desperate for food that they’ll drink a pre-packed bottle of infant formula can have it on the spot (those things taste so gross it’s unbelievable),

Translation, especially in medical settings, is a tricky business. You, the doctor, depend completely on that person’s ability to not filter at all what you say, but to also re-phrase it in a way the person can understand without losing any of the meaning or nuance. Classically, when it doesn’t go well, medical translation can be almost a joke – like when a provider gives a full, detailed explanation of the intricacies of breastfeeding, then pauses to wait for the translation, and hears the translator convert that five-minute-long, medical short-story full of caveats, warnings and physiology into one brutally blurted phrase (presumably “feed it. lots.”).

She leaned forward to say, again in English, “diarrhea is not something anyone wants to admit they have. Perhaps you could ask another way?” Diarrhea, like not speaking French, was apparently another sign of poverty, of lack of class, of lack of education.


MP Tom denies Nestle job claim

Since 2005, Mr Levitt has received three donations from Nestle – all properly recorded in the Register Of Members’ Financial Interests.

He accepted hospitality and tickets for the Ashes Test Match in July 2009 and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in June 2005.

He also went on a fact-finding mission looking at corporate social responsibility in South Africa in February 2008. Nestle funded flights, accommodation and other costs during the seven day trip.

Mr Levitt said: “It is right to have close relations with important local companies.”

But Mr Levitt said: “Nestle is amongst the most ethical of traders in this field.


Just 44% of UK moms believe that breastfeeding is always best.

Over 1000 mums took part in the survey, which revealed that less than half of UK mums believe that breast is best and that 19% of UK mums feel its important to put their own wellbeing first, 16% believe mums should always put their babys needs first, while 13% feel its important to research all the arguments in favour of breastfeeding and bottle feeding before making a decision.

A further 8% argued that no one had the right to tell them how to feed their babies.


Mommy Make Over for the Military Mom

Mommy Makeover surgery helps the Military Mom regain her confidence after having children and breast feeding. Mommy makeover can include breast surgery and body contouring surgery. Usually the abdominal muscles are separated after pregnancy and the breasts sometimes lose the fullness and perkiness they once had. Dr. Pousti can help moms get their pre-baby bodies back.


China’s Beingmate Violates Dairy Product Sale Rules

According to BMAIC (Bejing Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce), investigations by the Consumers’ Association have shown that Beingmate has seriously broken “The International Code for Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes: and China’s rules on the sale of breastmilk substitutes. In addition there are problems with the promotional information on the company’s packaging.


‘Humiliated’ mother forced off bus for breastfeeding

Amy Wootten, 25, was travelling home from Bristol city centre on the busy bus when her six-week-old daughter Emily needed a feed.  The driver pulled up the number 54 First Bristol bus and asked her to stop, saying that a passenger had complained.


‘Enjoy the baby, feed the baby’

Posted by tmatt

Surely, somewhere in America or the world at large there are a few atheist or agnostic women who are active in the La Leche League network that encourages modern women to breastfeed their babies. There must be a few.


Feeding mothers want more home visits (Irish Times)

PUBLIC HEALTH nurses (PHNs) should provide early and more regular home visits to support breastfeeding mothers and the PHN service should be extended from five to seven days a week, according to a new study.

Ms Mulcahy said the authors of the study had made 19 recommendations, almost all of which could be addressed with the implementation of an initiative based on the WHO/Unicef Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.



Liberal blog Bleeding Heartland took exception to unanimous Republican opposition last week to a bill in the Iowa Senate promoting workplace accommodations for employees who express breast milk.

The bill passed 29-15


NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Did the internet kill quality? Or just redefine it?

Old media faces some confusing competition in this new world. Is an expert essay on breastfeeding on iVillage more valuable to someone seeking out that information than a mom of three writing from Des Moines?


Liquid Trust – Does It Really Work?

Vero Labs dedicates themselves in researching and developing innovative products that help enhance human relationships. Their flagship product, Liquid Trust seems to be a very hot item…does it work?


Liquid Trust is the first atmosphere enhancement spray to contain Oxytocin, a human hormone that increases trust between people. According to the company, the user just applies the product in the morning no different than he/she would apply cologne or purfume. Then throughout the day everyone they come in contact with will detect the ingredient Oxytocin in the Liquid Trust causing people around them to have a strong feeling of trust.


Born behind bars

Being pregnant and in prison forces a woman to prepare for the worst. Will she receive the treatment she needs? Will she be able to get out of her cell if labour starts? And, most poignantly, will she be able to keep her baby? Four new mothers tell their inside stories

“I didn’t want her to go into care. Besides, I wanted her with me. I was still breastfeeding. It was the waiting that was horrible. I was separated from her for three weeks while the prison decided whether I could keep her.”


Brain power linked to mother’s milk?

Researchers had collected breastmilk from Perkins and saliva from Lincoln three months earlier….

Cheatham and others scientists in Kannapolis want to understand the human body’s apparent ability to change the essential fatty acid found in flaxseed oil — alpha-linolenic acid or ALA — into the superior fatty acid found in fish oil — docosahexaenoic acid or DHA.

“This is important because flax is a plant which we can grow,” Cheatham said. “It is cheaper, safer and more readily available than fish.”  It’s also easier to get children to eat flaxseed, which has a nutty flavor, than salmon and sardines.

“This could affect the standard of care, what doctors recommend to their patients,” she said. “We have the ultimate goal of giving every baby a fighting chance for success.”

But the only benefit they’ve been able to prove is DHA’s ability to support brain development in premature infants. It also helps treat heart disease.


Would you breastfeed someone else’s baby?

“A Chicago couple is suing a hospital for negligence after the new mom was handed the wrong newborn to nurse. …Awkward? Sure. Awful? Possibly. But worth suing over? I don’t think so.”


Breast feeding for over six months could aid mental health

A study by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth looked at 2,366 children born to women enrolled in a pregnancy study in the state of Western Australia.

Each of the children underwent a mental health assessment when they were aged two, five, eight, 10, and 14.

The researchers found that breastfeeding could help babies cope better with stress and may signal a stronger mother-child attachment which could provide lasting benefits.

“Breastfeeding for a longer duration appears to have significant benefits for the onward mental health of the child into adolescence,” researcher Dr. Wendy Oddy, who led the study, wrote in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Of the children in the study, 11 percent were never breastfed, 38 percent were breastfed for less than six months, and just over half were breastfed for six months or longer.

The mothers who breastfed for less than six months were younger, less educated, poorer, and more stressed, and were also more likely to be smokers than the mothers who breastfed longer.

They were also more likely to suffer from postpartum depression and their babies more likely to have growth problems.

At each of the assessments, the researchers found children who were breastfed for shorter periods of time had worse behavior which could translate into aggression or depression.

But for each additional month a child was breastfed, behavior improved.

The researchers said breastfeeding for six months or longer remained positively associated with the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents even after adjustments for social, economic and psychological factors as well as early life events.

“Interventions aimed at increasing breastfeeding duration could be of long-term benefit for child and adolescent mental health,” the researchers concluded.


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Filed under breastfeeding, Breastfeeding in the News, lactivist, the curious lactivist

Breastfeeding in the News: Feb. 13th – Feb. 19th, 2010

“Her biggest challenge was the mothers’ lack of knowledge – many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers just eat rice and do not make use of their resourceful yards where many nutritious plants grow.   “Sometimes, they just leave ripe papayas in the yard to rot on the trees and be eaten by birds or simply fall to the ground while their children do not consume any fruits,” she  (17-year-old Maria Bere) said.  “This is what I have been trying to change.”

In an unusual program sponsored by the Australian government, teenagers in Indonesia have been recruited as volunteers to assist local breastfeeding mothers.  Even though they are not yet parents themselves they regularly counsel new mothers on the benefits of both a healthy lifestyle, and the importance of feeding babies exclusively breast milk for the first six months.  18 year old Yohanes Bere is a motorcycle taxi driver who volunteers at a local health clinic where he weighs babies and toddlers while dispensing advice about breastfeeding.  His motivation?  To eliminate malnutrition in his village. “I want to see the babies and toddlers I serve one day grow up into healthy generation,” said Yohanes, who learned to do the job through teaching himself and training from health officials and a medical team.  …  “Now we no longer have malnourished babies or toddlers,” he said proudly.” 

Meanwhile here in the United States we can’t even get our high schools to talk to teenagers about the importance of breastfeeding, never mind recruit them to help new mothers.  Not too surprising really in a country whose Army deploys new mothers back into service (often thousands of miles away from their baby) just 4 months after birth.  It’s no matter that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for at least six months, the Army has their own rules.

Taking a quick look at what else is happening in other countries this week, we are reminded that the Cambodian government requires that every company employing over 100 women have a breastfeeding room on the premises.  The European Parliament is considering new legislation concerning maternity leave specifically because of the effect maternity leave has on breastfeeding.  In Cuba the breastfeeding rate is a low 26% but at least the Cuban article reporting on this had no qualms about including a close up photo of a breastfeeding baby latching on to its mother’s breast.  (Facebook would have deleted this pic quicker than you can say “milk please!”)  And in order to give mother a private retreat from the chaos in Haiti twelve “baby tents” have been set up around Port-Au-Prince providing mothers with a quiet place to breastfeed.     

Meanwhile there was a heartbreaking story from the northern regions of Canada.  Apparently mothers in northern Manitoba have to travel hundreds of miles just to deliver their babies.  They fly alone into Winnipeg shortly before their due date where they wait until their labor begins.  After the birth they climb aboard a bus and begin the eight hour journey home.  Imagine yourself trying to get breastfeeding off to a good start in those conditions.  A few years ago while visiting a Baby Friendly hospital in Norway I remember them telling me about women facing similar conditions.  Any woman from the northern regions of the country with a complicated pregnancy would be sent to a hospital in Oslo to deliver.  But rather than send her right home after the birth they would send her to what they called a “Mother & Baby” hotel.  In all respects it was a normal hotel, except that a nurse would check in with them once a day to check on them until they felt well enough to make the journey home.  I love the idea! Privacy, someone to change your sheets, plus room service and a nurse, I think all mothers could benefit from a little transitional time in a “Mother & Baby” hotel before going home.

The Gates Foundation is seeing some unexpected results from their experiment in providing “Essential New Born Care” training in rural third world areas (the training includes the importance of early breastfeeding).  While there was no change in the number of babies dying in the first week after birth, the number of stillborn births decreased dramatically.   Apparently babies who did not immediately breathe on their own and would have been considered dead before having received the training were now been revived.  The stillbirth rate dropped by an amazing 30%.   We’ll have to wait and see what the long term results of initiating early breastfeeding will be.

In medical news a baby in Brazil has contracted yellow fever vaccine virus after its mother was vaccinated.  This is the first report ever of something like this happening.  The antidepressant drug Paxil has been shown to potentially delay the onset of stage two lactogenesis (mature milk).   There is some good news however; a new study shows that premies who are fed at the breast on demand actually leave the hospital sooner than babies fed a schedule.

Don’t reach for that Kit Kat bar just yet.  Even though Nestle’s has given their Kit kat bar a new “fair trade” stamp of approval, Mike Brady of “Baby Milk Action” insists the candy should remain on our boycott list.   And speaking of marketing spins, Lansinoh has a new breast pump that it claims cuts the time spent pumping in half.  I just want to remind people that while I consider pumps and formula to be necessary in certain situations I find the way they market their products to be quite frightening.  Both formula and pump companies would have us believe that it would be unwise to have a baby without at least one of their products in your home, preferably before the baby even arrives.         

In the “this makes me mad” category this week is the article suggesting that the couple who are planning to sue the hospital who mistakenly gave the mother the wrong baby to breastfeed were included in a column called “Worst People in the World”.  And another article that like many started out informing the reader about the benefits of breastfeeding but then included this little tidbit; “It is highly necessary that you follow the advice and information provided by your pediatrician and that any changes in your diet is authorized by him, so as not to cause gastric disorders.”  Excuse me?  You need your pediatrician’s approval to change your own diet?? Did I read this correctly?  All too often I find articles like this, they start out on a positive note and then they say something that makes me cringe.

Okay, time for more good news.  A “Baby Friendly” hospital in Hawaii has been awarded some money as part of a wellness initiative.  Just another good reason to go “Baby Friendly” folks!  And in New Zealand a breastfeeding photo contest was held recently.   Again – Facebook management, please take note, not everyone thinks breastfeeding photos are obscene.

And finally last week we looked at the French attitudes towards breastfeeding, this week “Equality Begins in the Creche” sheds a little more insight into the reasons behind some of those attitudes.  For one thing, in an effort to boost the country’s fertility rates all French mothers are provided with affordable early childcare.  Apparently it is the desire of the French government to increase the native population while keeping women working outside the home.  So much for the idea that you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at the same time.  The French government believes women can. 

As always, I love hearing from you – so post a comment or drop me an email.   (And remember, the links to all articles are listed below.)

Kathy Abbott IBCLC


On Facebook:” Breastfeeding in the News”            

Stillbirths Drop Dramatically After Newborn-Care Training in Developing Countries

The rate of stillbirths in rural areas of six developing countries fell more than 30 percent following a basic training program in newborn care for birth attendants, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study tracked more than 120,000 births.

The study tested the efficacy of a three-day Essential Newborn Care training regimen that covers basic newborn care techniques, the importance of early breastfeeding, how to keep infants warm and dry, and signs of serious health problems.

“The study authors found that the overall rate of infant death during the first 7 days of life did not change among infants who had been administered the essential newborn care regimen. However, the rate of stillbirths dropped sharply — from 23 per 1,000 deliveries to 15.9 per 1,000. The researchers believe these improvements were seen in infants who had not drawn a breath on their own and would have been considered to have been born dead by birth attendants who had not received the early newborn care training.”


Lansinoh promotes new breastfeeding product with Principles

“The consumer press campaign is intended to appeal to busy mums on the go as the new product claims to express milk in half the time.”


Mum Wins Breastfeeding Photo Competition (New  Zealand)


Teenagers lend a helping hand to fight malnutrition

“Yohanes Bere is an 18-year-old ojek motorcycle taxi driver. But he is often busy assisting mothers who took their babies and toddlers to an integrated health service post in Kekirence village in Belu regency, East Nusa Tenggara.

Without hesitation, he helps weigh the babies and toddlers, and provides breastfeeding mothers with knowledge about healthy lifestyles, including the importance of giving breast milk exclusively to newborn babies until they are at least six months old.”


Breastfeeding Wars

“The thought of lifting my shirt in public was terrifying — especially after years of struggling with eating disorders. And yet I was being told that I should do it anywhere at anytime. (If not, I apparently wasn’t a “real” breastfeeder.)”


Equality begins in the creche

The debate over motherhood is missing the point – British mums should be fighting for the French model of childcare

“For some decades now, the French government has pursued, with considerable success, a far-reaching policy aimed at boosting the nation’s fertility rate, and increasing the number of women in the workforce. It did this by ploughing millions into subsidised, readily available, and easily affordable childcare.”


’ Baby tents’ offer Haitian mothers a safe place to breastfeed

“PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 18 February 2010—Amidst the collapsed buildings and temporary camps of this battered city stand 12 special tents dedicated to providing mothers and their infant children a safe and calm place to breastfeed.”


EPHA calls on the European Parliament to support breastfeeding in Maternity Leave Directive

A key piece of legislation, relating to maternity leave, has the potential to impact upoin levels of breastfeeding and therefore public health outcomes. EPHA sent a letter to the Members of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, calling for measures to safeguard and encourage the uptake and continuation of breastfeeding for young infants.

The letter was sent in relation to the work currently being undertaken by the committee on the improvements to the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.


Govt. urged to increase maternity leave, Malaysia lagging in Asean

“He said in Cambodia, it was mandatory for companies with more than 100 women workers to provide breastfeeding rooms and childcare centres. Similar facilities were also provided for mothers in Indonesia.”


Fed When Hungry, Premature Babies Go Home Sooner

““This review very clearly highlights the paucity of truly good feeding studies in which mothers and infants were allowed or encouraged to establish breastfeeding ‘rhythm’ early in life,” said Jay Gordon, M.D., attending pediatrician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at UCLA Medical School.”


Is Fair trade Chocolate Fair Enough?

“Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, has added Nestlé’s fairtrade Kit Kats to its list of boycotted products in an effort to promote change for people in developing countries. His organization believes that all Nestle’s products should be fair trade – not just chocolate.”


Sunday’s worst people in the world

“It seems that at 4 a.m. on a January morning two years ago,  an Evanston Hospital employee woke up new mom Jennifer Spiegel to breastfeed her baby. Shortly thereafter, a nurse came into the room and explained there’d been a mistake, that wasn’t her baby.

And while no one was injured or sickened, the Chicago couple says the hospital should be held responsible for the mix-up. They are seeking at least $30,000 in damages


Benefits of Breastfeeding

“After six months, infants commonly begin to prefer more solid foods than breast milk. After one year, the baby will opt more for the same solid food. Remember that the digestion of your baby is in training so no need to hurry in switching to food. Not everyone has the same metabolism and in the case of babies this applies. It is highly necessary that you follow the advice and information provided by your pediatrician and that any changes in your diet is authorized by him, so as not to cause gastric disorders.”


Harper lectures the G8, but what about northern Manitoba?

Most mothers-to-be must fly hundreds of miles into Winnipeg to deliver, leaving behind their husbands and kids for weeks on end. They stay in boarding homes waiting to go into labour, often with no immediate family by their side.

Getting home can mean an eight-hour bus ride with a newborn, making breastfeeding tricky and embarrassing


Breastfeeding Benefits Both Mothers and their Children  (Cuba)

“At present, scarcely 26% of women feed their babies exclusively with their milk during the first six months of their lives.”


Breastfed baby picks up yellow fever virus

“A breastfed baby contracted the yellow fever vaccine virus in Brazil a week after its mother was immunised against the disease, report health officials today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The case is the first of its kind to be confirmed anywhere in the world.”


Paxil May Cause Lactation Problems

A new study indicates that new mothers who take Paxil may experience problems lactating. The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil could cause a delay in the start of full milk secretion.


Hawai‘i awarded $912,713 as part of recovery act community prevention and wellness initiative

DOH was awarded $428,713 to apply sustainable policy and systems changes in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and tobacco. Funded projects include:

Baby Friendly Hawai‘i Project, DOH will work closely with the Breastfeeding Coalition of Hawai‘i to increase support for breastfeeding by changing policies in hospital maternity programs statewide, to increase the likelihood of sustained exclusive breastfeeding after birth, a protective factor from obesity and diabetes.


How Well Does the Military Treat Single Mothers?

No Wonder the U.S. Is Known for Inadequate Maternity Leave, writes The American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana, when its own military ships women to war before they’re finished breastfeeding. The Army deploys women as little as four months after they give birth, Arana writes, which “isn’t enough of a grace period for deployments–many women are still breastfeeding then. Returning to work after four months might not seem so bad, but it’s a huge burden when work is thousands of miles away.”



Filed under breast milk, breastfeeding, Breastfeeding in the News, the curious lactivist, Uncategorized

Breastfeeding in the News: Oct. 12th – Oct. 20th, 2009

Hello All,

Nestles is in the news again.  They’ve just released the results of their latest “FITS” study (Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study). The good news is that babies are breastfeeding longer “In 2008, 33 percent of nine-to-11 month olds are still receiving breast milk compared to just 21 percent in 2002.” The bad news is French fries are still the number one vegetables given to toddlers.  Nestles says their study proves that while “caregivers are feeding infants better diets” they may need “more guidance to improve the diets of toddlers and preschoolers.” Having babies breastfeed longer will of course mean less formula sales for Nestles, but not to worry, having seen the handwriting on the wall Nestles has already bought out Gerber so they are perfectly positioned to offer parents of toddlers that much needed “guidance”.   (Nestles also made the news this week in California where a grass roots organization is trying to shut down their efforts to create a water bottling plant.  Their argument? “Do we want a criminal corporation responsible for the deaths of millions of infants come to Sacramento to make immense profits off our water supply?”) 

In other business news Chrysler is being lauded for accommodating mothers with flexible schedules and even a lactation room (at corporate headquarters of course – no word on what accommodations are made for factory workers).  With so many layoffs they have learned a lesson that I hope other companies will take to heart. Even if you can’t give raises you can reward women with flex time (which is free) and lactation support.  Towards that end three companies in California were commended for “going above and beyond California’s basic legal requirements” in offering lactation support.  “Above and beyond” I like that.  It makes them sound like super heroes! 

Of course all is not well every where in the business world.  In Oklahoma where the law merely “encourages” businesses to accommodate breastfeeding mothers in the work place a mother whose job includes 9 hour shifts with no scheduled breaks laments “I’m supposed to choose my job over feeding my child? I don’t think so,” Powell said. “I don’t think they should ask a mother to do that.” As so often happens, as soon as the press got wind of the story her boss promised to accommodate her.  I’ve included two other stories about combining work and breastfeeding (one mom describes pumping during board meetings!), the other applauds our own Melissa Bartick (head of the MA Breastfeeding Coalition) for daring to mention “the elephant in the room” maternity leave.  Yay Melissa!

I imagine you’ve all heard about the “obese” baby by now, a totally breastfed baby who because he was in the 99th percentile on the weight charts was denied insurance coverage because of his “pre-existing” condition.  The parents were outraged but luckily once again the media came to their rescue.  As soon as the media coverage began the offending company changed their tune.  Sometimes however parental outrage can go a little too far especially if they take matters into their own hands. In India a distraught family went on a rampage in the hospital after being told that the baby had come to visit had died because of suffocation during breastfeeding.  Apparently they didn’t buy this theory.

WIC is experimenting with placing their offices in malls which is now affordable to them since so many stores have closed.  Speaking of WIC, Hygeia (in what is obviously a marketing ploy) recently pointed out that it is WIC policy to put out bids for breast pumps that need only accommodate 90% of  mothers.  But they make an interesting point.  Not all pumps fit every woman.  Hygeia says, “Imagine if 10% of the blood glucose meters were defective and consumers couldn’t return them. Or that 10% of the blood pressure readers didn’t work and the manufacturer said it’s the consumer’s fault for buying the wrong unit at the drug store.”

Checking in with the younger generation while it is disheartening to learn that over 23% of teens think that breast cancer is caused by tanning, only 7% think it can be caused by breastfeeding.  An interesting study of UK moms aged 18 to 24 revealed that only 25% trust the advice given by their midwife, GP, or government paid health visitor, preferring instead to get their information from on line chat rooms and family.

No one likes the idea of children starving and to that end a new bill now pending in the Senate from the agricultural appropriations committee of all places would provide over $150 million towards childhood nutrition programs including “$5 million in performance bonuses to state WIC agencies that increase rates of breastfeeding.”   If only Latin America had such resources. Over 9 million children face chronic malnutrition and in some spots such as the Dominican Republic the breastfeeding rate is as low as 4%.  We can blame the formula companies’ heavy handed marketing strategies for some of those numbers.

Of course there are other reasons to breastfeed besides basic nutrition.  A new Australian study links breastfeeding to a decreased risk of asthma.  And while we are talking about new studies there is a new one out that reports that about 680 children are admitted to hospitals each year because of injuries from the inappropriate use of car seats.  Please remind parents that car seats are for cars, babies however are meant to be carried in arms (not buckets).

Co-sleeping studies in the Journal of Pediatrics and another by the University of Warwick have generated attention.  The bottom line remains the same, unsafe co-sleeping habits (being under the influence of drugs/alcohol, sleeping with a baby on a couch, etc.) are in fact dangerous and safe co-sleeping arrangements should be encouraged, but how to get this message across to the public?   The Warwick study found that 54% of cot deaths occurred while a baby was co-sleeping with an adult.  You can say that half the deaths occurred while babies slept with their parents, as one of the authors of the study points out but “You could also say that half the deaths occurred while babies were alone in their cots, he says, but: “I don’t see anybody saying, ‘Don’t put your baby in a cot.’” However the FSID (The Foundation for the Study of Infant Death) feels that teaching parents about the specifics of safe bed sharing is just too time consuming.  According to Joyce Epstein, director of FSID, “this is too complicated.  “If you can get people’s attention for more than three seconds you would like to give the whole story every time, but at what point do you lose everybody?” she says. From their perspective, the simple direct message – put your baby to sleep in a cot near the bed, not in the bed, is the key.” But dumbing down the message carries its own risks.  Parents who have been warned against the dangers of taking their baby to bed are more likely to fall asleep on the couch with their babies, a practice that carries a great deal more risk than bed sharing.

Last but not least is my favorite story of the week – a funny (though not always flattering) look at the inherent problems of Jewish guilt and the ability to breastfeed.  Although breastfeeding advocates are not portrayed in the best regard in this story (it is amazing what you can swallow when it is doused with humor!) her point that it is our culture that should feel guilty, and not individual women, is well taken.

Once again I feel like I am falling way behind in keeping up with my weekly updates.  This week’s excuse?  My daughter has been home with the flu all week.  Not only did I have to tend to her physical needs I had to reassure her almost hourly that no she would not die of Swine flu or H1N1 – (at least not on my watch!).

I hope you all are well, and as always I would love to hear from you. 

Kathy Abbott, IBCLC


On Facebook: “Breastfeeding in the News” 

My Blog:  http://TheCuriousLactivist.wordpress.com/

Bottled Guilt

How the debate over breastfeeding is driving us crazy

We are Jewish women. We are high achievers. Many things have come easily to us. We can bring home the Faken; fry it up in a pan. Which means that when we fail at something supposedly so easy any mammal can do it, we feel horrible.  Breastfeeding is supposed to be a cinch. We educated ladies of Hebraitude know it’s expected of us. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. Research indicates that breastfed babies have less diarrhea and fewer colds and ear infections than formula-fed babies. They’re less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, less likely to have lymphoma. And of course we want our children to grow up strong and healthy enough to withstand our powerful Jewish Mother Guilt Rays.

To a great extent, we’ve gotten comfortable with our ability to tame our Jewish bodies. We can straighten our curly hair; diet or exercise or Spanx our butts into submission; depilate or wax or laser our swarthy body hair into oblivion. So when our bodies betray us, it’s a shock.

My sister-in-law, struggling to nurse twins, called the La Leche League, an international breastfeeding support group, for help. The woman on the phone told her, “Breast milk is like a blood transfusion for a baby. Formula is like a hot dog and fries.” A good friend of mine was told in disbelief by another mom, “Your kids seem healthy and smart, and they weren’t breastfed!” (My friend pointed out that actually, two of her four children had nursed a bit. The woman smiled and said, “Oh, but you cheated with formula, right?”) Another friend called a lactation consultant, sobbing, worried that her newborn daughter (who was born with a pinched nerve in her neck, leaving her unable to nurse) was starving on the meager amounts of breast milk she was able to pump and feed through a tube. The lactation consultant urged my friend not to give her hungry baby formula. “It’s like feeding her poison,” the consultant said in a hushed voice. “It will damage her kidneys and take three months to get out of her system.” My friend worked herself into a frenzy, pumping every two hours, waking the baby constantly to get her to eat, crying regularly.

Jewish mothers, according to our ancient cultural portrayal, are mega-nurturers, urging our babies to eat, eat, eat. If our 90-year-old Biblical matriarch could nurse a child, what the hell is wrong with us? A midrash from the Babylonian Talmud says that Sarah was so womanly, her breasts were two fountains that flowed with enough milk to feed all comers. When this old lady miraculously produced a baby, the story goes, people muttered that Isaac was actually adopted. (Need I add that this tale may resonate painfully with Jewish women who delayed childrearing for work or education, or who may have trouble conceiving and feel berated by the commandment to be fruitful and multiply?) To prove that Isaac was hers, Sarah breastfed all the children in the neighborhood. What kind of loser modern Jewess can’t make enough milk for even one measly baby? And hey, don’t think adoptive moms are exempt; you ladies could damn well nurse if you tried hard enough. That is, if you really cared about your babies and weren’t such selfish bitches. (Memo to the slow: save your email. We call this sarcasm.)

And then there is the One True Breast. One of the many names for God, Shaddai, may be a reference to breastfeeding. (The Hebrew word for breasts is shaddaim.) No one knows the origin of this divine name, but it may well be a reference to an earlier fertility goddess. Part of godliness is nurturing a people from your own body and soul—it’s the mother-child dyad writ large.

Despite some lactivists’ insistence to the contrary, there are women who simply can’t breastfeed, such as those taking certain medications or who’ve had breast surgery. And though making too little milk is generally called “mismanagement” (hey, no judgment there!) it’s a reality. According to Lisa Marasco, an expert on insufficient milk supply and a professional liaison for La Leche League of Southern California/Nevada, reasons for low milk supply can include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism and severe postpartum bleeding. Interestingly, Marasco points out that fertility treatments may also play a role. “In the past, some women might not have been able to get pregnant or give birth,” she writes. “[I]t may be that just because science can get you pregnant, it can’t make you able to nurse a child.” Postpartum depression or stress can certainly be factors too, and nagging doesn’t help. We’ve all had friends who tried to nurse exclusively, but wound up in a sobbing heap on the bedroom floor at 5 a.m., sending their partners out for formula. Finally, if a baby latches improperly, over the long term he or she may not get enough milk and nursing will hurt the mother like a mofo. Lactation consultants may be able to help. Or not.

In any case, it’s unfortunate that women are guilted for not nursing when a big chunk of blame should fall on our culture. Family-leave policies in the U.S. lag far behind the rest of the industrialized world. A survey of 16 European countries and Canada found that these countries provide an average of 68 weeks of maternity leave, with 33 of those weeks paid. Jewish women, like all women, may well have to return to the workforce sooner than we’d like. That’s particularly true in this economy. And then there’s the fact that not every workplace or life is conducive to pumping.  The upshot: don’t judge a woman until you’ve walked a mile in her post-partum granny panties.

We Jews are, I think, particularly susceptible to judgment and guilt. We are a competitive lot. Just as we pore over the work of Dr. Sears and Dr. Weissbluth as if it was the Talmud, act as if sleep training and toileting are matters of life and death, obsess about whether our little angel is hitting his developmental milestones faster than the nearest similarly-aged baby at Tot Shabbat, drey about getting our kid into the “right” school, we want to excel at nursing. Recent research showing that formula isn’t poison doesn’t really have an impact on maternal emotions this profound. And we turn our anxieties outward, guilt-tripping other women, because of our own insecurity. The breastfeeder rolling her eyes at the baby with a bottle or pacifier may have her own mishegas. Maybe it’s about feeling invisible, about not having a career, about not feeling able to voice her resentment over feeling distant from her husband because of the intensity of her intimacy with her child. Who knows? I do know that we channel our own ambivalence outward; we turn parenting into a vicious contest. As one doctor I interviewed laughed, “Guilt begins at conception!” We’re all looking for the magic bullet, the amulet, the hamsa, the mezuzah, the one thing we can do to insure safety in an unsafe world. And some of us fixate on nursing as that one thing.


Health Clinic Could Open At Mall

Metro Health Dept. Wants WIC Clinic At Hickory Hollow

ANTIOCH, Tenn. — It’s a trend that’s slowly happening across the country: More and more health clinics are opening up shop in, of all places, aging malls that have few stores.

Now the Metro Health Department is hoping to open a new women, infants and children — or WIC — clinic at Hickory Hollow Mall. Metro Council still has to approve the plans.

Supporters said the mall is a perfect spot since about 14,000 people in Antioch rely on the program. The program provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support and healthy food vouchers for needy women and children.

If approved, this would be the fourth WIC clinic in Nashville


Group Urges City Council to Stop Nestlé Raid on Sacramento Water

Save Our Water, the coalition of grassroots community activists mobilizing against the Nestlé Corporation’s plan to build a new bottling plant in south Sacramento, is asking the Sacramento City Council to quickly adopt an urgency ordinance requiring a special permit for water bottling facilities in the city in order to stop the internationally boycotted corporate giant from coming to the Capital City.

We don’t need a huge corporation such as Nestlé making immense profits off a public trust resource, Sacramento’s water supply, especially at a time when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Legislators are campaigning for a peripheral canal to steal more water from the Sacramento River to supply unsustainable corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and unsustainable development in southern California.

Human rights activists and breast feeding advocates from throughout the world have boycotted the Swiss-based Nestlé Corporation since 1977 because of the millions of deaths of infants it has caused over the decades. The boycott, coordinated by groups including Baby Milk Action, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) , Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) and Save the Children, was prompted by concern about the company’s marketing of breast milk substitutes (infant formula), particularly in less economically developed countries, which campaigners claim contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of babies, largely among the poor.

Do we want a criminal corporation responsible for the deaths of millions of infants come to Sacramento to make immense profits off our water supply?


Chrysler gets nod from mothers mag

In a year bloodied by drastic workplace cutbacks in jobs, salaries and benefits, Working Mother magazine determined its annual 100 Best Companies list by putting great weight on employers who were flexible.

Flexibility is a cheap and powerful policy that you can give people,” said Jennifer Owens, the magazine’s special projects director. An employer “can’t give you a raise, but can give you some flexibility, and that’s free.”

To Michelle Thomas, an employee at Chrysler Group LLC, that flexibility is priceless. She’s worked at Chrysler for nine years, most recently in a job-sharing arrangement. She and another employee share a human resources position that allows her to work part-time, so she can better care for a 3-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter.

The Auburn Hills automaker was one of three Michigan companies, including Battle Creek cereal maker Kellogg Co. and Midland’s Dow-Corning, that made the Working Mother 2009 list (www.workingmother.com).

“I had worked full-time for a few months when my first son was born. It was overwhelming. I didn’t have quality time. I was running my errands on weekends,” said Thomas. “This arrangement has been helpful to me to balance my work and my life.”

The magazine’s commentary noted that Chrysler “during a year of challenge and change … managed to beef up its work/life offerings to ensure that employees who needed help could still get it, despite being forced to reduce the size of its workforce in the wake of bankruptcy filings.”

Some of Chrysler’s female-friendly attractions: Chrysler opened a Henry Ford Medical Center clinic and pharmacy at headquarters. Its employee assistance program has grown to offer confidential counseling on emotional, financial and parenting challenges.

Chrysler headquarters offers a lactation room for women who are breastfeeding. Over the summer, Chrysler arranged with the Rochester YMCA to pick up children of employees at headquarters for transport to a daily summer camp.

Those perks are timesavers and anxiety-relievers, and benefit the employer also, since an employee can focus on the job instead of child care.

Studies have shown downsizing takes a toll on employee morale and productivity. In tough economic times, retaining programs such as flexible scheduling, telecommuting and job-sharing help keep employees motivated and build loyalty.

It’s the 12th time Chrysler has made the list, says Lisa Wicker, Chrysler’s director of global diversity, and represents “a message in and of itself that working mothers are important.”


Three firms honored for helping new S.J. mothers

Three employers who have provided support for their breast-feeding employees by going above and beyond California’s basic legal requirements will be honored Friday at the 2009 Mother-Baby Friendly Workplace Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Breastfeeding Coalition of San Joaquin County.

This year’s recipients, each nominated by an employee, are: In Harmony Music Therapy Services; the Law Office of Michael D. Small; and United Cerebral Palsy.


Study Shows That Diets of Infants are Improving; Concerns Remain for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Study Shows That Diets of Infants are Improving; Concerns Remain for Toddlers
and Preschoolers
Nestle releases data showing that caregivers are feeding infants better diets,
but may need more guidance to improve the diets of toddlers and preschoolers

Parents and caregivers are hearing and
following the feeding guidance for infants, yet continued work needs to be
done to help them also build good eating habits for their growing children,
suggests data from the Nestle Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS)
released today at a symposium at the American Dietetic Association's Food &
Nutrition Conference & Expo.
The study reveals both progress and areas of concern in the diets of young
children in the United States. The data show some positive trends versus 2002
when Gerber Products Company, now part of the Nestle family, first
commissioned the FITS study.  Infants are being breastfed longer; and fewer
infants and toddlers are consuming sweets and sweetened beverages on a given
day. However, other findings are less positive -- on a given day, many
toddlers and preschoolers aren't eating a single serving of vegetables or
fruit; and many toddlers and preschoolers are consuming diets with less than
the recommended 30-to-40 percent of calories from fat.  Most preschoolers are
eating too much saturated fat and sodium.

The FITS findings suggest that more guidance and support is needed to help
caregivers better transition from feeding their babies to meeting the unique
nutrition and feeding needs of a toddler or preschooler. As a result, too many
young children are mirroring the often unhealthy eating patterns of American
Mothers are breastfeeding their children longer. In 2008, 33 percent
Of nine-to-11 month olds are still receiving breast milk compared to just 21 percent in 2002.

Other survey findings

French fries are still the most popular vegetable among toddlers and preschoolers. However, among older babies there were improvements, and French fries are no longer ranked in the top five vegetables among infants age nine-to-11 months, compared to FITS 2002, when French fries ranked among the top vegetables in the diets of older infants on a given day.


Do Women Have a Right to a Breastpump That Works? Asks Hygeia

In the USA, each state is responsible for its Women Infant Children program and encourages breastfeeding through lactation counseling and the purchase of supplies. A state bid notification for breastpumps and supplies was recently issued. “This bid had such an unusual feature that needs further attention. The bid’s breastpump requirement was that the pumps only had to work for 90% of the women. The state felt that it was acceptable for the pumps to fail for 10% of the women,” stated John Estill, CEO of breastpump manufacturer Hygeia.

"Imagine if 10% of the blood glucose meters were defective and consumers
couldn't return them. Or that 10% of the blood pressure readers didn't work
and the manufacturer said it's the consumer's fault for buying the wrong unit
at the drug store. These situations are really unimaginable. Why then, are
breastpumps, which are solely designed for women, subject to the reverse -
that it's their 'fault' mothers picked the wrong pump and tough luck for them?


The sleep tight fight

A new infant mortality study has again raised concerns about co-sleeping

The pervasiveness of the debate over whether parents should sleep with their baby is evident in the intensity and the immediacy of the response to a new study in a well-respected medical journal that looks at infant mortality trends.

The study notes a rise in incidences of suffocation and strangulation in bed as part of a wide-ranging examination of all causes of infant death, but the only mention of cosleeping or bed sharing is in a chart on the second-last page of the report, and the report’s lead author has been at pains to distance the findings from the ongoing debate that pegs proponents against those who claim the practice is dangerous for children and hinders social development.

Despite that abundance of caution in the study, online communities are abuzz with a slew of blog posts, discussion board conversations and articles scrambling to capitalize or debunk the report’s findings.

One post to a Mothering Magazine discussion board called on the magazine to “come out with some sort of statement against this ridiculous assessment.”

Riled-up mothers and physicians have been weighing in on both sides at blogs like MamaSaga, NewsMomsNeed, Motherwear’s Breastfeeding, Families.com, and The New York Times’ Motherlode.

At parentdish.com, one commenter said this about bed sharing: “Why would you take the chance? Just seems irresponsible to me. I know there are those that are adamant that is best for baby, but it just doesn’t jive with the safety risk as far as I’m concerned.”

Experts who advocate cosleeping say they are surprised by the amount of attention garnered by the study, which was published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.

“This whole discussion is an almost immoral condemnation of bed sharing, and I’m baffled because there’s no causal relationship explained in this paper,” said Dr. Jim McKenna, chairman in Anthropology and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab at the University of Notre Dame.

The most contentious aspect of the report is its conclusion, which says that infant mortality rates attributable to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed have quadrupled since 1984, but goes on to say that the reason for this is unknown. It tracks the decline in cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and an increase in accidental suffocation deaths and those from unknown causes.

Even Dr. Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, lead author of the study, said it is impossible to know whether deaths caused by accidental suffocation and strangulation have actually quadrupled or whether it reflects a change in categorization. “I wanted to explore whether there was an actual increase in deaths or something else going on. What I think is there’s been a change in how medical examiners and coroners are classifying deaths on death certificates,” she added.

Opponents of bed sharing have been on the offensive since the publication of the report, touting it as clear evidence of the dangers of a practice which is generally agreed to be on the rise both in Canada and the U.S. and which is largely embraced outside the Western world in countries like Japan and India.

“The study supports my biggest concern with bed sharing, which is safety,” said Cheryl Stiles, 29, a Nova Scotia mother whose three-month-old boy has slept in a crib in a separate room since his first night out of the hospital. “I’m a heavy sleeper and I would be so worried about smothering him.”

But Dr. McKenna said it’s important to note that there is a difference between safe cosleeping and unsafe co-sleeping, pointing to precautions such as avoiding soft bedding, ensuring there is no space between the mattress and the headboard, and avoiding couches and waterbeds altogether. Smoking and substance abuse also contribute to an unsafe environment, he said.

Proponents believe the practice is integral for mother-child bonding and infant brain development, arguing that babies who share a bed with their mother develop healthy breathing patterns, are less at risk of stress disorders and enjoy a more speedy maturation of the nervous system.

“The human infant is the most sensitive primate to the mother’s presence and is born the least mature of all mammals,” said Dr. McKenna. “They rely on the mother to take on a big role in their continuing gestation, to regulate the baby as she did while he was in the womb.”

Edita Orr, 34, a mother of a seven-week-old boy who has experimented with both bed-sharing and the use of a bed-side bassinet, said she was acutely more in tune with her baby while bed-sharing than while her son slept in the cradle. “It was lovely sharing a bed with him. I could tell he felt safe, it reminded him of being in the womb — the touch, the smell, my breath.”

Her son Riley spent the first three weeks sleeping between his mother and father in their king-sized bed, but after many sleepless nights and fears of smothering him, the baby was moved to a bed-side bassinet. “I found he cried more when he moved to the cradle and didn’t fall asleep nearly as quickly,” Mrs. Orr said.

Independent crib sleeping is a largely Western practice, one that some say stems back to the Industrial Revolution when physicians wrongly believed a high infant death rate was due to bed sharing. Modern research has largely disproved this theory and shows that infanticide, and not bed sharing, was responsible for many infant deaths during those years.

Much to the aggravation of bed-sharing proponents, some medical bodies have in recent years urged parents away from sharing a surface with their baby, including the U. S. Center for Disease Control, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Ontario’s own former deputy chief coroner James Cairns.

Although the official position of the Canadian Paediatric Society is that the safest sleeping environment for a baby is in a government-approved crib, spokesman Dr. Denis Leduc was quick to add that a separate sleeping situation should not interfere with breastfeeding. Pro-breastfeeding Web sites are quick to point out that frequent feeding is believed to decrease the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as well as assist in the physical and psychological development of the baby.

“We definitely support cosleeping and bed sharing, especially as a way to encourage frequent breastfeeding,” said Rebekah Smith, program coordinator of INFACT Canada, a breastfeeding advocacy group. “The bottom line is that we want people to have the information they need to make their own decisions and to not feel stigmatized for whatever they choose.”


The truth about sleeping with baby

Time and time again, mothers are warned of the dangers of sleeping with their infants. But has the science been badly misinterpreted? Sarah Boseley reports

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) and the department say categorically that the safest place for a baby is in a cot in the parents’ bedroom. Babies must sleep alone. Breastfeeding mothers should wake up, get up in the cold grey dawn, pick them up, settle in a comfortable armchair, feed them and then put them back in the cot and hope they won’t wail piteously for long.

This message was strongly repeated by the foundation on the publication of a study this week by the British Medical Journal which FSID itself funded. “Latest findings by researchers from Bristol University . . . confirm that ‘the safest place for a baby to sleep is in its own cot’. This four-year study . . . found that in half of all unexpected deaths of children in the south-west of England, babies had died sleeping with a parent or carer,” said FSID’s press release.

What is worrying, the release went on, is that 25% of mothers in a survey “were not persuaded that bedsharing can increase the risk of cot death”.

But anyone who read the full paper, by a very experienced and well-respected team from Bristol and Warwick Universities, would be hard pushed to believe it either.

Yes – the study found that 54% of cot deaths occurred while the baby was co-sleeping with a parent. But although the risk was strong if they had crashed out on the sofa, it was only significant among those in a bed if the parent had drunk more than two units of alcohol or had been taking drugs.

Peter Fleming, professor of infant health and developmental physiology in Bristol, one of the study authors, was appalled by the misinterpretation, as he sees it, of the paper in the media this week. “I really felt quite uncomfortable about it,” he told the Guardian yesterday.

“My view is that the positive message of this study is that it says don’t drink or take drugs and don’t smoke, particularly for breastfeeding mothers. We did not find any increased risk from bedsharing. It is a very different message from the one the media picked up.”

You can say that half the deaths occurred while babies slept with their parents. You could also say that half the deaths occurred while babies were alone in their cots, he says, but: “I don’t see anybody saying, ‘Don’t put your baby in a cot.'”

Fleming has a particular reason for worry. The study showed that sleeping with the baby on a sofa really is a risk. Yet seven of the parents whose baby died say they had gone to the sofa to feed, aware that bedsharing is said to be dangerous, and had fallen asleep.

“Any advice to discourage bedsharing may carry with it the danger of tired parents feeding their baby on a sofa, which carries a much greater risk than co-sleeping in the parents’ bed,” says the paper. “Anecdotally, two of the families of Sids infants who had co-slept on a sofa informed us that they had been advised against bringing the baby into bed but had not realised the risks from falling asleep on the sofa.”

But despite Fleming’s concern, the FSID was sticking to the line agreed with the Department of Health yesterday: “The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a cot beside the parents’ bed.” It pointed out that the same sentence appears in Fleming’s paper, but did not mention what follows next: “Based on evidence from research into Sids it is questionable whether advice to avoid bedsharing is generalisable and whether such a simplistic approach would do no harm. Parents of young infants need to feed them during the night, sometimes several times, and if we demonise the parents’ bed we may be in danger of the sofa being chosen. A better approach may be to warn parents of the specific circumstances that put infants at risk.”

Joyce Epstein, director of FSID, says this is too complicated. “If you can get people’s attention for more than three seconds you would like to give the whole story every time, but at what point do you lose everybody?” she says. From their perspective, the simple direct message – put your baby to sleep in a cot near the bed, not in the bed, is the key.

The new study, she says, is just one study (although in a Lancet 2006 paper the Bristol team also found a link to drink and drugs). George Haycock, professor emeritus of paediatrics at St George’s hospital in London, who is FSID’s scientific advisor, points to nine previous studies that have looked at co-sleeping and cot death and concluded that sharing a bed is risky.

“You can’t say there is no risk,” says Haycock, even if it is small for non-smokers. And he is tacitly critical of the “breastfeeding lobby” for defending bedsharing, when there is no concrete proof that it increases the numbers of women who breastfeed.

But Fleming says this study breaks new ground. Nobody in the past has gathered reliable information about drug-taking. “The advantage of this study is that because we did a death-scene evaluation, three to four hours after the baby died, we were able to look at all sorts of factors which in the past we couldn’t look at.” When the researchers talked to the parents, offering sympathy without blame and the possibility of explanations for their tragic loss, the parents told them everything, including what they had drunk and what drugs they took the night before. “People are very willing to share that information with you at that time,” he says. “You get the real picture.”

The paper adds that the findings may explain some of the quirky cultural associations between co-sleeping and Sids. Among black African populations in the United States and Maori and Aboriginal people, where babies commonly sleep with their parents, cot deaths are high, yet in other bedsharing communities, such as Japan, Hong Kong and among the Bangladeshi and other Asian peoples of the UK, deaths are low. The difference is in their smoking, drinking and drug habits.

FSID’s raison d’etre is to eliminate sudden unexpected infant deaths and that is what they believe their advice on putting babies in cots, on their backs, “feet to foot”, on a firm mattress with no pillow, will help do. But other organisations think there may be real benefits to taking your baby into your bed. The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the country’s leading parenting organisation (and champions of breastfeeding), openly defends bedsharing.

“The study shows that risks for babies whose parents did not smoke or consume alcohol or drugs but who did share their bed with their baby were not different from that for babies in a separate cot,” says its head of research Mary Newburn in a statement responding to the BMJ publication.

The NCT’s position is a response to the real world of its members. “Many parents share their bed with their baby when they are young and this can be done safely,” says Newburn. “It is clear from surveys that around half of parents sleep with their babies at some point in the first six months, and around a quarter do so routinely, so we need to help them to do this in the safest way possible.”

Rosie Dodds, NCT senior public policy officer, says they understand FSID’s position. “They are really worried about the number of babies dying and want everybody to be as safe as possible,” she says. “But there are likely to be advantages to babies sharing a bed with parents.” Although she acknowledges that there is no scientific evidence establishing that bedsharing increases breastfeeding, there is an association, and breastfeeding on its own has been shown to lower the risk of cot death.

Deborah Jackson, author of Three In A Bed, says she thinks we are, in the UK, “fixated on the bad aspects of sharing a bed with the baby”, which is strange because “the history of bedsharing or shared sleeping places with the baby is as old as humanity itself”.

Her research, together with her own experiences of bedsharing with her three children, have persuaded her it is profoundly beneficial for both mother and child. The mother is aware of her baby as she is sleeping and reacts to her. “[Once] I was asleep,” says Jackson. “[One of my children] was sleeping next to me. I suddenly sat up in the night and held her over the bed and she was sick,” she says. Somehow she had known the baby was about to be unwell.

But there are clear dangers if the mother has been drinking or taking drugs. “All the things that make it good can make it really dangerous if you are not incredibly sensible. That’s true of everything in parenting,” she says.

Cot death is devastating and everybody is on the same side – they want to see fewer tragic families who have lost their babies. But there is clearly not one single road that everybody can march down together. In the end, a single prohibitive message for parents may even be counter-productive. This may be one of those cases where the public should be given credit for their intelligence and allowed to make up their minds on the basis of rather fuller information.


Peaceful revolution:  Why support for breastfeeding matters more than ever.

my boss thought it was the height of humor to serenade me with mooing sounds as I emerged from his office (the only room with a door in our open studio) holding my precious stash, headed for the refrigerator. So much for commanding respect as a professional.

At least I had access to a private office. My sister, who works in retail, gave up after 5 months of pumping in a dirty public bathroom. Another friend is a traveling sales representative and had to pump in her car.

Women are being forced by attitudes and circumstance to choose between feeding their children what Nature intended and some powder in a can whose safety we pray we can depend upon.

The State of California, that perennial hotbed of radical ideas that eventually become mainstream (organic food, hybrid cars, anyone?), has instituted worksite protection legislation for working/nursing mothers, that among other things, requires that employers provide “lactation accommodation,” i.e., they need to provide mothers with a reasonable amount of time to express milk and provide a convenient, private location other than a bathroom to do so. We could also add a similar requirement for public “mother’s rooms” to building and zoning codes, providing accessible and clean, safe places to nurse or pump in places like shopping malls and airports. Melissa Bartick MD in these pages has documented the success of this legislation and suggests that the same be included as part of national health care policy reform, along with the elephant in the room, paid maternity leave.

Demanding these changes may be the most difficult thing we face. After fighting so many years for equal opportunities at work, we now find ourselves asking for special treatment as women, something we fear will undermine years of struggle. The argument for staying at home versus working is pointlessly destructive. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking we need to do it all, balance it all, without complaint. Business guru Jack Welch depressingly insists there is no work/family balance. He’s only showing what a dinosaur he truly is. Complain and demand we must. Breastfeeding is the first step on the road back to healthy eating. Babies, it’s time for a change.


Breast feeding key to reducing malnutrition in Latin America

“In times of crises, we call the three ‘F’s, – the fuel, food and financial crisis – governments should be encouraging mothers to breastfeed, ” said Enrique Paz, UNICEF’s health and nutrition advisor for Latin America.

Over nine million children under five in Latin America suffer from chronic malnutrition

The problem is particularly prevalent in Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, where malnutrition is a leading public health concern and is as widespread as it is in Africa or South Asia.  “Sixty per cent of mums in Latin America are not breastfeeding their babies.”

Across Latin America, there are vast disparities in breastfeeding rates. In the Dominican Republic, only four per cent of babies are fed exclusively with breast milk, compared to Peru where the figure rises to 63 per cent.


There are cultural barriers to overcome too in persuading mothers to choose breastfeeding over milk formula.

In some Latin America countries, like Colombia, feeding babies with milk formula brings social status and is seen as a sign of being rich.

“We’re losing ground,” he added, referring to aggressive marketing campaigns carried out by milk formula manufacturers.

“Recently we’ve seen pockets of acute malnutrition in rural areas in Guatemala, where astonishingly some kids don’t have anything to eat, and in excluded populations in urban areas in Buenos Aires and Brasilia,” said UNICEF’s Paz.

Providing pregnant and breastfeeding women and infants with potentially live saving minerals and vitamins in tiny amounts, also known as micronutrients, is seen as a cheap and effective way to combat malnutrition.

Vitamin A tablets, costing just two cents each, and other food supplements such as iodine, sugar, folic acid, zinc and iron, are becoming increasingly available in rural health clinics in countries like Peru and Bolivia.

In the city streets of Bolivia and Argentina, apple sellers also stock micronutrients, while in Chile fortified flour has helped to significantly reduce malnutrition rates.


‘Obese’ Baby Denied Health Insurance

When four-month-old Alex Lange was born, he was a normal 8 1/4 pounds. He’s been on a strictly breast milk diet since birth and is now in the 99th percentile for height and weight of babies his age. Yet Alex hasn’t been able to get medical insurance because companies say he has a pre-existing condition — obesity.

 Understandably the Langes were upset. “I could understand if we could control what he’s eating. But he’s 4 months old. He’s breast-feeding. We can’t put him on the Atkins diet or on a treadmill,” Alex’s father, Bernie Lange, told the Post. “There is just something absurd about denying an infant.”

Rocky Mountain Health Plans medical director Dr. Doug Speedie explained that their decision was based on current industry standards. ” If health care reform occurs, underwriting will go away,” he said, referring to the process that insurers go through when they decide whether to accept or deny someone for coverage. “We do it because everybody else in the industry does it.”

But after the story broke, Rocky Mountain announced on Monday that they “will now provide health plan coverage for healthy infants, regardless of their weight.”


New study shows lower asthma rates in infants related to breastfeeding

Source: Government of Australia

Findings from a two-year study on asthma and wheezing illness in one year olds and kindergarten children, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, show that within the first three years of life, almost 17% of Australian infants experienced asthma or wheezing illness. 

However breastfeeding within the first 12 months of life may offer a protective effect against asthma or wheezing in infancy, which increases with increasing breastfeeding duration. 


Breastfeeding ban

WELLSTON, OK — An Oklahoma mother claims her employer is trying to keep her from breastfeeding her twelve-week-old baby. Oklahoma has two state laws that are supposed to protect breastfeeding women, but neither states anything about feeding during working hours. It’s something state agencies hope to change.

“At first when I came back it wasn’t an issue, because I was going to the bathroom, but it was really cold, and I’m sorry, the bathroom’s nasty,” she said. “So, I started breastfeeding her in the back, and someone complained.”

Her bosses told her she wasn’t allowed to breastfeed at work anymore.

Feeding during breaks isn’t an option either because Powell says she has no scheduled breaks.

She says her daughter refuses a bottle and will go an entire nine hour shift without eating; a painful amount of time not only for baby, but mothers as well.

There are laws on the books in our state, but they don’t require employers to allow breastfeeding; it only encourages them to do so.

“Am I supposed to choose my job over feeding my child? I don’t think so,” Powell said. “I don’t think they should ask a mother to do that.”

News Channel Four did hear from the owner of the convenience store.

He said the company wants to do the right thing and will do whatever needs to be done to accommodate Powell.


Lincoln pushes for nutrition program extension

The agricultural appropriations bill now pending in the Senate would provide nearly $150 million in child nutrition initiatives aimed at fighting hunger and promoting health among children in Arkansas and around the country, Sen. Blanche Lincoln said.

I am proud my first legislative effort as chairman of the Agriculture Committee would help to improve the health of our children and prevent needy children from going hungry. The Committee will work with USDA and the administration on a reauthorization that improves access to healthy meals, reduces hunger, and improves school meals and the health of infants, school children, and pregnant and nursing mothers.”

$5 million in performance bonuses to state WIC agencies that increase rates of breastfeeding.


ASCO Breast: Even ‘Tweens Fear Breast Cancer

Among the girls ages 8 to 18 surveyed before an assembly at 13 schools in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles, more than 23% believed that infection, drug use, stress, and tanning cause breast cancer.

From 10% to 20% said they thought caffeine, antiperspirants, or getting bumped or bruised in the breast were causes. According to 7%, breastfeeding increased the risk of breast cancer.


New mothers shun the NHS and log on to swap baby tips

Few new mothers trust official advice on childrearing, and they’re turning to chatrooms and family for help

With so much conflicting guidance, new mothers are shunning official medical advice

, only 3 per cent putting their faith in anything the Government or the Department of Health has to tell them. Only one in four says she trusts the information provided by her health visitor, midwife or GP, leaving family members, friends or chatroom contacts to pick up the slack

When it comes to coping with sleepless nights, problems with breastfeeding, or getting their baby into a routine, nearly three-quarters of mums aged 18 to 24 said they had found solace online. Josie George, mum to 15-month-old Kai, said she found her various health visitors’ opinions “well-meaning but useless”, and that the conflicting advice they had offered about her son’s sleeping problems had been “overwhelming and very confusing”.

She added: “The only place I’ve ever found any help is online, from people who have been through the same situation. [Online] you have the ability to connect with people who aren’t just giving you their opinion but are sharing their experience.”

The survey of 1,150 mums, by the baby product manufacturer Philips Avent, singled out lack of sleep as by far the biggest concern in early parenthood, followed by breastfeeding. More than one-third said confusing advice, particularly about feeding and sleeping routines, had marred their experience of becoming a parent.

Vicki Scott, a midwife who counsels Philips Avent, said the quality of advice provided by health professionals had deteriorated. “Midwives don’t have time to understand problems before dispensing advice,” she said.


LIZ RYAN: Breastfeeding in the boardroom

“Do you remember that meeting in Salt Lake,” asked Steve, “when you brought the baby?”

Of course I did. How could I forget? Our company was in the midst of a tumultuous strategy-setting exercise, and I was out on maternity leave — as much leave as I could wangle, given the pace of the job. Those weeks of maternity-leave-on-paper-only mostly consisted of me dashing to work with the baby mid-morning, promising myself I’d stay half an hour, tops, and leaving five hours later.

That baby spent so much time in the office that they made him an employee badge with his little photo on it.

Little Eamonn was only 6 weeks old — he had to nurse every couple of hours. I didn’t want to leave the meeting to nurse.

When the conference began, I would push my roller-chair all the way into the corner, cover up with a huge flannel blanket and nurse as inconspicuously as I could. As the talks wore on, I got bolder. By the third day, I was nursing him right at the conference table, whether the person who was holding forth on strategic options was one of our division presidents, or me.

I got pretty good at a three-step maneuver prompted by baby Eamonn’s hungry whimpers.

Step one: Grab the baby.

Step two: Toss the blanket over a shoulder, simultaneously yanking the sweater up to access the milk supply.

Step three: Baby on the tap, blanket down! The whole routine took three seconds.

Thirteen years later, I’m not sure that breastfeeding in the boardroom has gained much ground in corporate America, if any.

But I remember how good and how reasonable it felt to do two important things — one left-brain and one, well, right-breast, perhaps — at the same time. I remember feeling that as much as we try to convince ourselves that there are two realms — the sterile spreadsheet-y analyze-and-conquer realm of business and the milky, fleshy, natural world of babies and real life — the demarcation is fictional.

The divide we have talked ourselves into is entirely imaginary. Professionalism is an attitude, and a nursing executive mom is exactly as professional as a laser-pointing CFO. They may even be the same person.


Newborn’s death triggers hospital ruckus

Doctors said the infant, born on Friday to a woman called Mehroonisa, died due to suffocation during breastfeeding. However, the family staying on Entally Convent Road refused to buy this theory.

On Sunday afternoon, the boy’s relatives went on the rampage at the female ward and broke window panes and furniture. Unable to handle the rampaging mob, the hospital authorities called up the police, who rushed to the spot immediately. Seeing them, the mob relented. No arrests have been made


Car seats can be dangerous outside the car

More than 8,700 infants end up in the emergency room each year because their car seats are used improperly outside the car, according to study presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ annual meeting in Washington.

Most of the injuries in Parikh’s study occurred when car seats fell off tables, countertops or other high surfaces. In some cases, babies who weren’t securely buckled fell out of the seats. Babies also were injured when car seats flipped over on soft surfaces, such as beds and couches, where infants can suffocate, he says.

Most injuries were to the head, although babies also suffered fractured arms and legs. About half the injuries occurred at home. About 8% of the babies, or about 680 a year, needed to be admitted to the hospital, the study says. Three died during the study period of 2003 to 2007, Parikh says.

Parikh says hospitals, medical societies and manufacturers should warn parents about the dangers of misusing car seats. If parents need to use the seats outside the car, he says, the seats should always be placed on a hard, flat floor, where there is no danger they will topple over.

Spending too much time in car seats can cause other problems.

Physical therapists are seeing more babies with “container syndrome,” or weak muscles and flat heads caused by too much time spent lying on their backs, says Colleen Coulter-O’Berry of the American Physical Therapy Association.

And a study in Pediatrics in August found that car seats can make it difficult for babies to get enough oxygen, which led the authors to suggest that the seats be used only while infants are in cars.

Car seats reduce the odds of a baby dying in a crash by 75%, according to a February study in the American Journal of Public Health. Car accidents are the leading cause of accidental death in children over age 1, according to the pediatrics academy.


Kathy Abbott, IBCLC


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