Does breastfeeding matter?

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To hear lactivists tell it, breastfeeding has tremendous benefits in both health outcomes and IQ. Since the breastfeeding rating has varied dramatically over the past century, we have an excellent opportunity to determine whether those purported benefits really occur across populations and over time.

Below you can find a graph of US breastfeeding initiation rates from 1910-2000.

breastfeeding initiation 1910-2000

If the claims of lactivists were true, we would expect to see a decline in both health parameters and IQ when breastfeeding declined, but we see nothing of the kind.

Let’s look at infant mortality rates:

breastfeeding and infant mortality

As you can see, there has been a precipitous decline in infant mortality over the past century completely independent of breastfeeding rates.

How about long term health? Here’s a graph of life expectancy vs. breastfeeding rates.

breastfeeding and life expectancy

No obvious benefit here. Life expectancy has risen steadily over the past century and breastfeeding rates appear to have had no effect.

What about IQ?

breastfeeding and IQ

American IQ has risen 25 points in a linear fashion from 1915-2000, and breastfeeding rates appear to have had no impact.

Taken individually or together, the graphs demonstrate that the impact of breastfeeding rates on mortality, life expectancy and IQ are trivial or non-existent.

Obviously, there were other factors at work in improving health and IQ, including better medical care, better nutrition and better education. Nonetheless, the fact that there is no observable effect of breastfeeding, despite the  dramatic swings in breastfeeding rates, suggests that breastfeeding has a negligible effect on health and intelligence.

And that’s just what you’d expect in looking at the breastfeeding studies show real, but very small benefits. Fewer colds, and fewer episodes of diarrheal illness in infants would not be expected to produce any discernible effect in overall measures of health. IQ variations of the same magnitude as the standard error of IQ tests would not be expected to have any discernible effect on IQ.

In other words, as I have been saying over and over and over again, the benefits of breastfeeding, while real, are trivial.

The next time lactivists are tempted to berate women who don’t breastfeed, they should take a look at these graphs. They show that breastfeeding rates have no impact on health or IQ.

And any mother who feels guilty for not breastfeeding should look long and hard at these graphs. There are still a lot of reasons for mothers to feel guilty, but whether or not they breastfeed isn’t one of them.

 

References:

Life expectancy in the United States. Shrestha, Laura B. Congressional Information Service, Library of Congress, 2005.

The Resurgence of Breastfeeding at the End of the Second Millennium, Wright A, Schanler R, J. Nutr. February 1, 2001 vol. 131 no. 2 421S-425S.

Trends and differentials in breast feeding: an update. Hirschman C, Butler M. Demography. 1981 Feb;18(1):39-54.

  • There are too many confounding factors. And those graphs are too simplistic. It would be difficult to isolate a single variable, especially when looking at old data.

  • fiona ball

    Firstly, those graphs are meaningless – advancement in medical technology over those years would have tremendous affects. Premature babies survival rates have increases by 40% over 20-years alone, due to medical advancements. As well as vaccinations, and treatments for other conditions, that were once fatal then – are not now. Both correlation, and non-correlation, do not say causation or non-causation.

    Secondly, being breastfed or formula, would not have an immediate affect on life expectancy. We wouldn’t see any real change until now, 50-60 years after the decrease in breastfeeding initiation. And guess what – obesity, diabetes, heart disease are at the highest ever among this age group.

    Lastly, Unicef and many health organizations disagree – please look at Unicef website for valid studies. Many studies show a huge difference, when *exclusive* breastfeeding for *6-months* is compared with a formula fed child. Breastfed in a study should not mean mixed-fed, which is what many studies use. This skews the results.

  • Nancy

    That IS a very odd question for the dentist to ask! I would have said “does it matter” (okay, in my MIND I would have said that!!)
    I breastfed my first son for 8 months (and hated it the whole time), until he was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly he died 13 months later (a person on the “does breastfeeding matter blog” said that BF will protect them against cancer…year so much for that theory!)
    My second child was born 1 week before what would have been my sons 3rd birthday. Because 1. I didn’t like it anyways, and 2. I was an emotional mess, I didn’t even TRY to BF her! She has been very healthy! Nothing more than a little cold here and there.
    My 3rd child, has Down syndrome, and was born with a hole in her heart. I thought I would give it a try again to give her a little extra help. As with many children with DS she had a hard time latching. Because she was in the NICU for 2 weeks, we really didn’t have a lot of time to work on it, so I pumped for her. Then she needed increased calories. I pumped for over 4 weeks, until one day I woke up and just couldn’t do it any more! (my other daughter was 15 months at the time, with a broken leg! – yeah – we know how to have FUN in our family!) I saved some of the milk, so when she was recovering from Open Heart Surgery at 6 weeks old she could have that for the first few days. She still needed the increased calories until she was about 12 weeks old.
    For those that BF good for you – I am happy it works for YOU and YOUR family! But for those that don’t, or ca’nt – then good for you,because that is what is best for YOU and YOUR family!

    thecookiegal.wordpress.com

  • Kay, IBCLC

    I came across your website while searching out topics for my IBCLC exam, and I just wanted to throw in my two cents for what it’s worth…
    I found your article rather interesting and brought up some really good points. However, I don’t like the perceived notion that all lactation professionals are “lactivists”. Don’t get me wrong…I know they are out there! But there are those people in all areas of study, or anything that brings out someones passion. What I focus in my practice is “love the baby…feed the baby”, however that gets accomplished is up to the mom. I help people that WANT to breastfeed, and educate people that WANT to know what the difference is. Do I tell people that if they don’t give their baby human milk that they are shortening their life span and making them dumb? Hell no! I don’t know that to be true…and that is no motivation for anyone to do something. I, myself was strictly formula fed, and I think I turned out pretty awesome. 🙂 I just hate when I come across a topic that so polarizes us as women when there really is a common ground…we love our babies and all want to be good mothers. Giving your baby breastmilk does not, in and of itself, makes you a good mother. And giving your baby formula does not make someone a bad mother! You do what’s best for you and your baby…and nobody can make that decision but you, the mom. Anyway…sorry if my 2 cents turned into a quarter…I just wanted to let internet land know that we aren’t all “quacks” as someone so lovely put it. 😉

  • Ann Hodgman

    Can we also mention that Mommy’s TIME is worth something, and that she might prefer to interact with her child in a more interesting way than nursing him around the clock? And just as important, what about Daddy? Why can’t he have equal time feeding his child? Why can’t he have a chance to bond (and a chance to help his partner get some rest)? Surely the benefits of being occasionally fed by the baby’s father outweigh any snippets of nutrition obtained through nursing. One thing that irritates me about lactivists is this homespun, dated view that mothers are the only important parents. “Let Mommy sit on the couch all day nursing–Dad can just be off somewhere making the money.”

  • thanksforthelaughs

    Hmmmm 100 years of artificial feeding vs billions of years of evolution?! Seriously you old hag get off the Internet…… you’re embarrassing Harvard!

    • KarenJJ

      You’ve definitely convinced me with your logical and well-referenced argument.

    • adri

      It’s more than 100 years dear. People have fed their infants things other than human breastmilk since the beginning of time. What is your point anyway? She is not saying formula is better than “billions of years of evolution”, but it’s pretty damn close to it because babies grow and thrive on it.

  • Liz Earle

    In the UK we are shocking at supporting our mothers to BF. We have around 80% starting falling to 20% odd after just 4 weeks. Something that i always find interesting is the Cancer issue. Because we cant support women to BF we don’t educate them about the association between BF and giving you ad your child protection against cancer. So whilst im very pro choice, i do think its only choice when you have the full facts. I notice that childhood cancer and ovarian/breast cancer wasn’t on the graphs? I did AF feed my baby because i didn’t know these links until i trained as a MW but i reckon id have stuck with it had i known. Im going to hazard a guess that others might also think the same?

    • Nancy

      I breastfed my son for 8 months, until he got cancer, he died 13 months later. All that Breastmilk didnt help him one bit

      • Young CC Prof

        I am so sorry for your loss.

        • Nancy

          Thank you. I have had two more children since, one only formula. Nothing more than a little cold for her so far. one BF for about 6 weeks, which included me pumping only for 4 of those weeks. She spent 2 weeks in the NICU, then had open heart surgery. Only formula, and I am sure she will be just fine.

  • ngozi

    I have successfully and unsuccessfully breastfed 5 children. I plan to breastfeed my sixth. I am doing it because it is right for me, and because there are some things I don’t like about formula (because I used it, not because of what some breastfeeding advocate said).
    I feel that there are a lot of things about breastfeeding that the breastfeeding advocates are leaving out. It is not always so much easier than formula, especially if you have other children and you don’t have an army of people to help you cook, clean, do laundry, etc… It is not always possible to drop everything you are doing and breastfed a baby for about 30 minutes, sometimes every 2 hours.
    American society is usually not one where new mothers have a lot of extended family support. In societies where several family members live all in the same house, and other family members live near by, sometimes in what could be called a compound, there is usually a lot of ready-made help. But let’s face it, that just doesn’t happen for the most part in our independent-minded American society. So you often (not always) end up with an exhausted breastfeeding mother who is made to feel guilty that she can’t be superwoman.

  • Liza

    Thank you Dr. Amy. I’m a proud mom that had a baby after a bout with breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy. I had a breastfeeding maniac try to shame for feeding my kid formula while “maintaining my perfect breasts”. I explained that my “perfect breasts” were actually prostheses. That didn’t matter. I am supposed to advertise on Craig’s List that I’m looking for untested donated breast milk from strangers. Then, had the nerve to say that I wasn’t modeling desirable behavior because I didn’t have breast reconstruction after the mastectomies.

    Here’s what is hysterical. My other kids were breastfed. They all had tons of ear infections, strep and other illnesses. I was in the doctor’s office at least once a week with them. The formula fed baby is 5 and has never been on an antibiotic. This tells me that it’s craps shoot!

    • Dr Kitty

      Liza, I can’t believe ANYONE would have the chutzpah not only to get in your face about your feeding choice…but then to feel they had some right to comment on your decision about whether or not to have reconstructive surgery (and your choices in both regards, are, of course, perfectly reasonable ones)…wow.

      I’m sorry you went through that, and you’re a better woman than me if you managed it without profanity or blind fury!

      MYOB has apparently gone out of fashion.

    • An Actual Attorney

      You have my respect for not taking one of those prostheses and shoving it up her ass. I would have cheered you if you did.

  • JesusR

    You wrongly equate health with mortality. Health is obviously a wider term. What you say is basically that “bottle-fed infants suffer more diarrhoea and acute otitis media, and their mothers have higher breast cancer rates, but, hey, this is not a health impact because eventually they don’t die more”.

    However, health is quality of life, not just death.

    • GuestX

      it’s not like formula feeding CAUSES diarrhea or ear infections. It’s just that breast feeding may protect your baby from a few of those episodes. It’s simply not a big enough benefit to justify harassing women into breastfeeding. Anecdotally, my EBF baby had many episodes of diarrhea once we started solids – like her father, who has gastrointestinal issues. There’s so much more that goes into this than simply the type of liquid nutrition.

      • ngozi

        I think it is sad to harass women into breastfeeding when they don’t have the support at home to keep it up. Sure, my husband supports me breastfeeding…as long as it doesn’t mean his dinner is late *eyeroll*

  • Certified Hamster Midwife

    Meanwhile, at the New York Times, a well-meaning [presumably white] lady ponders tampering with a First Nations woman’s mail in order to encourage her to breastfeed her child.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/thy-neighbors-cat.html?ref=magazine (second letter)

    • Box of Salt

      Note: it’s the second letter down.

      Why are basic ethics so hard for some people?
      (rhetorical question)

      • Box of Salt

        Yes, I paid no attention to CHM’s typing after the link unitl after I hit the submit arrow.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        Although the thing with the cat is also pretty interesting.

    • Clarissa Darling

      Wow, even talking to someone about what they are receiving in the mail seems like a pretty clear cut invasion of privacy to me. It goes beyond the breast vs. formula debate. What if my postman knocked on my door and said “I see you’ve been getting a lot of credit card statements, do you need some advice about credit counseling?” I would be alarmed and offended. I think it’s this person’s ethical responsibility NOT to get involved in with what is being delivered to someone through the mail (unless it’s illegal of course).

    • rh1985

      that is horrible.

    • Jennifer2

      How hard is it to give the woman her mail without comment while wearing your “sort the homeless and at-risk folks’ mail” hat and then later to extend an invitation to a parenting seminar where the benefits of breastfeeding will be discussed, among other topics (because, seriously, homeless and at-risk Native American women probably have a few other barriers to good health besides not breastfeeding – like, I don’t know, just off the top of my head I would go with the homelessness.)

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        > just off the top of my head I would go with the homelessness

        No kidding!

  • stacey

    Lactivists like to pretend that B milk and FF just exist side by side, but this is not accurate. Breast milk requires near constant use of the mothers breasts, while FF does not. Why is this never mentioned? IT MATTERS.

    IF we do not want to use our breasts all the time for BF, that is OK. This is a very important consideration. Thankfully, there is an excellent substitute. If you are going around telling moms that they better BF, or else!, then you are part of the problem.

    Moms do have ownership and bodily autonomy, as much as extreme lactivists, forced birthers, and Republicans like to pretend we do not. Those types see us a walking breasts and uteruii (?), made to gestate and BF, whether we want to or not. They reduce us to biological abilities, saying we are not doing our “jobs” if we do not want to play be their retrograde rules.

    We are more than our bodies.

    • Wren

      I chose to breastfeed and actually enjoyed it a lot. That still doesn’t mean I think any woman should be forced or coerced into it. It is awesome that we have another option.

  • An IBCLC

    I honestly do not understand how you can say that breastfeeding doesn’t matter. We, as human beings are classified as mammals.

    “There are about 5,000 species of living mammals. They are divided into three subclasses and about 26 orders (there is no consensus among biologists). Unlike other animals, mammals have body hair, have 3 middle ear bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes), and nourish their young with milk that females produce in modified sweat glands that are called mammary glands.”

    Being part of this class means we were biologically made to nurse our young. How do you justify that a man made replacement ( artificial baby milk, aka ” formula” ) is better for a human than human milk?
    Of course breastfeeding matters. It is the act of nourishing your baby with the perfect milk your body was able to make for them. Breast milk aka ” Liquid Gold” is made specifically for each child by their mother. ABM is manufactured in a plant, and has to be generic enough to be used by any baby across the world. I again ask, how is this better?

    • rh1985

      Formula is better in some circumstances, it is mind boggling to me that extreme lactivists cannot recognize this. The mother has to make this choice as an individual, based on the individual circumstances of herself and her child. There are factors that can make breastfeeding much better (prematurity and protection against NEC) and factors that may make it inferior to formula in a specific situation (such as a mother who can’t function without medication that interferes with supply or is harmful to a baby). Also, if a mother finds breastfeeding so physically or psychologically uncomfortable and miserable that she suffers mental health issues as a result, that will affect her ability to care for and parent her child and the child will suffer as a result.

      • An IBCLC

        I wholeheartedly AGREE, formula is better in some circumstances. I do wonder how you took my thoughts and immediately classify me as a lactivist just because I am pro- breastfeeding, and work in the lactation field. First and foremost the baby needs to eat, how a parent goes about achieving that is their decision, it is not my place to judge. My profession affords me the knowledge and education to support the choice to breastfeed. It also gives me the confidence in my work for knowing when to recommend ABM. Generically speaking breast milk is best, and thank goodness technology has advanced o that we are able to assist babies who for whatever reason need ABM.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I guess I’m trying to figure out the point of your comments. Do you have one, outside of “breast is best”? Thanks for that great insight.

        • Clarissa Darling

          You were the one who said “How do you justify that a man made replacement ( artificial baby milk, aka ” formula” ) is better for a human than human milk?” Now you say “I wholeheartedly AGREE, formula is better in some circumstances”. So which is it? It would appear that you are what the political pundits call a flip flopper. If you don’t have the stomach to stand by your statements in the face of criticism, I suggest you think about that before you make them.

        • Captain Obvious

          “Being part of this class means we were biologically made to nurse our young”, geez. Just like the woman’s body was designed for birth. Even though 10-15% of women can’t even get pregnant because of various infertility issues. Of those who do get pregnant, 20% miscarry and another 10% deliver preterm. Maybe comments like that allow us to understand your true biases.

          • An IBCLC

            Since you don’t know my history, I would ask that you please not go there.

          • KarenJJ

            I didn’t think he was talking specifically about your history, just that biology is not perfect. I’m sorry if you have suffered with issues conceiving. There’s a few of us that have had problems on here.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Why does your personal history get you a free pass but you get to play Judgy McJudgypants to women whose histories you do not know? You either are a biological determinist (“made to nurse”) or you understand that real life is more complicated.

        • stacey

          Some moms just don’t want to BF. This is OK too.

        • Karen in SC

          Stop calling formula artificial breast milk and maybe, just maybe, we will be more inclined to believe you are not judging.

    • KarenJJ

      Lets say that I didn’t care too much about what scientific classification I fall into when it comes to classes and species. I just want to know if my baby will suffer if I don’t breastfeed them. How will they suffer if I don’t breastfeed?

      • An IBCLC

        Your baby will suffer, if you don’t feed them. It is not black and white. Breast milk is specifically made for babies, it’s nature. We have been given an amazing opportunity to have knowledge advanced enough to formulate a milk substitute for those babies who need it. Yes, I am an IBCLC, yes I honestly believe breast is best. Yes, I believe there is a place and a need for formula. That said, I also wish more women who choose not to breastfeed would just own up to it. I don’t want to hear some excuse, or reason that is a long winded explanation for you to fel better about yourself and to justify choosing to feed your baby ABM. Simon say I chose to feed my baby formula, then move on. The first and most important advice I give all of my clients is this: feed the baby! You have the choice to do what is best for your baby, in your family! I don’t judge how you feed your baby, don’t make assumptions about me. Suffer is the wrong and too strong of a word. It’s about the best choice, which is different for each situation.

        • KarenJJ

          Well of course my baby will suffer if I don’t feed them. But what if I don’t feed them breastmilk? The fact that it is natural doesn’t matter to me. Eating cooked meat is not natural either. I need to know exactly how they will suffer for the lack of breastmilk.

          The thing is I expect that my baby won’t suffer and neither will I. That was what it came down to when I was looking at breastfeeding whilst on medication, foregoing medication in order to breastfeed a little and combo feed (since unmedicated I just don’t make enough breastmilk) or going on medication and using formula exclusively.

          When it comes to someone at the coal face trying to work out how to feed their baby when they or their baby has these sorts of issues, the fact that breastmilk is natural, or what other mammals do, is irrelevant. I wanted to know the exact risks, whether they could be mitigated somehow and whether my baby would suffer for these choices. The rest was just salemanship and part of the image of breastfeeding.

          There are some great IBCLCs that post here. I hope they chime in with their experience on giving new mums breastfeeding support without layering on the imagery and guilt and telling people they must not be natural humans if they can’t breastfeed.

          “You have the choice to do what is best for your baby, in your family!”

          Many of us don’t and don’t want to for whatever reasons – sexual abuse triggering, medication issues, flat/inverted nipples, chronic anemia/PCOS causing supply issues, chronic illnesses, returning to work soon, single mums dealing with other issues in their lives and needing support, adoptions and all those other issues you don’t want to hear about.

          • auntbea

            Not really about the actual point of your post, but there is an article in a recent Smithsonian Magazine about how human kind may not have evolved without cooked meat. The hypothesis: if we had to spend as much energy digesting raw meat as other animals do, we would never have had the energy to grow such a large brain.So in that sense, cooked meat may in fact be very natural.

          • Box of Salt

            Interesting. Could you link it, or does it require subscription?

          • auntbea
          • Box of Salt

            Thanks! I think I will look for Wrangham’s book at my library.

          • KarenJJ

            Interesting, thanks for sharing. We’re a strange type of mammal that’s for sure. Almost as odd as the platypus. I wonder if Platypi try to ‘normalise their birth experience’ to other mammals by not laying eggs?

          • auntbea

            They just ban anyone who isn’t a bird.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          You have the choice to do what is best for your baby, in your family!

          Yes, and very often, what moms are choosing is that, for their baby, in their family, formula is best.

          Are you saying they are wrong?

        • Durango

          There is nothing to “own” on the parents’ part. I suspect you hear a lot of “excuses” because there are so very many judgmental lactivists. So maybe the best thing for you is to work on your peers, convince them to stop judging formula feeding mothers and truly own your bias and get rid of it. Then maybe you’ll stop hearing excuses. How a person feeds their baby is no one’s business but their own.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            There is nothing to “own” on the parents’ part. I suspect you hear a lot
            of “excuses” because there are so very many judgmental lactivists. So
            maybe the best thing for you is to work on your peers, convince them to
            stop judging formula feeding mothers and truly own your bias and get rid
            of it. Then maybe you’ll stop hearing excuses.

            QFT.

            Why should women make excuses? Well let’s see, wasn’t it just the other day where Margaret came in spouting how “no one has provided a single justification as to why they have to use formula”? And she isn’t alone.

            Of course, I don’t buy the claim by our visit ICBLC that she isn’t judgmental. Read her first comment. It’s dripping with judgmental guilt trip (breast feeding is natural, don’t want to be unnatural, do you?) If that’s the sales pitch she gives to her clients, of COURSE they are going to have to come up with some excuse if they don’t want to do it.

            Yeah, I’m sure she’s all accepting of others’ choices…

        • Clarissa Darling

          You don’t want to hear my excuses? Good, I don’t want to give them to you. The only person who is qualified to determine whether my reasons for not breastfeeding are “good enough” is me. Judging by your attitude, I doubt you would consider my excuses valid and I really don’t care. If my child wants to sit in a therapists office 25 years from now and complain that he was scarred because he lost out on 4 IQ points or had 1 too many ear infections because of formula I will address the issue with him and no one else. After conversing with my son and his therapist I will converse with my attorney about having my will changed since no ungrateful brat who would make such a issue over something so trivial 25 years after the fact deserves to inherit my hard earned money.

        • stacey

          “it’s nature”
          NOT a good excuse. Sorry. Nature KILLS babies and Moms in significant numbers, and humans have found ways around it. I respect nature, but it is not always the best thing for people.

          MAYBE if lactivists, and other moms, didn’t SHAME FF moms, they wouldn’t feel the need to make excuses? Don’t you think that it is a response to social pressure, not an inherent need to make excuses? Also, sometimes excuses are explanations.

          I LOVE BF. LOVE it. And am BF a toddler, and will probably keep it up until she quits. I still have a hard time seeing it as anything more than marginally better. Maybe because I have FF son?

        • LibrarianSarah

          Maybe if your compatriots in the lactivist community stopped acting as if formula was poison more women would simply say “I chose not to breastfeed.” And seriously, re-read your first comment and tell me how you think it would make a formula feeding mom feel. You don’t get to set up an atmosphere where you make moms feel like shit for feeding kids formula and then chastise them for not being strong enough to simply say “I chose not too.”

        • auntbea

          Why is it your business why they aren’t breastfeeding? Especially since you don’t judge?

        • PJ

          Oh, I don’t judge women who choose not to breastfeed but they are making their babies suffer and should just quit making their silly excuses about why they don’t breastfeed!

        • Amazed

          “I don’t want to hear some excuse, or reason that is a long winded
          explanation for you to fel better about yourself and to justify choosing
          to feed your baby ABM”

          You don’t want to hear? Who are you, the Queen of the World? Who made you the boss? There is a place and time for formula but only the ones the likes of you see fit? Spare me. If you don’t want to hear some excuse or reason, you’d better change your bloody job. No, I say you’d better change it anyway.

          You’re disgusting. You’re pathetic. You’re the reason women feel that they need to give excuses. You pass yourself as a professional? Be a professional, then. Now, I know that’s beyond the scope of a fanatic but you can at least try. Women feel that they have to make excuses because “professionals” like you make them feel like they should.

          Get down of your makeshift pedestal and see yourself as you are. The image you’re giving yourself and your colleagues is that of cows (no offense intended, that’s just how you come across, the goddess cow who nurses faithfully because she was made for this) who insist that every other woman should feel like a cow too.

          I’ve often been frustrated by Dr Amy’s tone but my, she’s right once again. Your brittle ego and fanaticism are showing. God save me from professionals who use me to boost their own self-esteem.

          Oh, did I say a professional? I take it back. You don’t have medical education, after all.

        • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

          Hopefully as you get to know more mothers, you will start developing a more balanced approach to understanding how they feed their babies. More compassion, less judgment. And compassion does not mean pity, it means truly understanding where they are coming from and respecting it.

    • Lizzie Dee

      Who is saying, in absolute terms, that formula is better?

      Not many absolutes in childrearing – it would be nice if there were. Or maybe not. If someone were to discover that CS protected brain cells and was better than vaginal birth, or that some babies do much better on formula, some mothers produced poor quality “liquid gold” I think some

      would freak out!

      Until the research gets a lot more definitive, with fewer mays and mights, or there is very strong evidence that formula feeding is markedly inferior, I think women should be left alone to decide for themselves what works for them. Mammals, including our closest relatives the chimps do all sorts of things that most of us are not keen to emulate. You want to model yourself on them, fine with me. I am prepared to believe breast is best most of the time…all things being equal… Being rich and perfect works well, too, but most of us can live with what is feasible.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        there is very strong evidence that formula feeding is markedly inferior,

        That is almost impossible at this point. If formula feeding was “markedly inferior” it would have shown up in some way. Instead, all we get is that the difference between them is so small that it is completely overwhelmed by other factors.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I again ask, how is this better?

      Yes, all else being equal, breastmilk is better. However, since rarely are all things equal, the answer is, it depends on the circumstances.

      I have explained (in this thread or not, I do not remember) how, for us, formula feeding was not only the better option, it is was the ONLY option. For example, my younger son refused EBM in a bottle. Therefore, the only way he could go do daycare was with formula. And he had to go to daycare so my wife could work. Formula was the best option we had.

      If we tried to give him breast milk in a bottle, he refused to drink it. How is that better than formula?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Because the scientific evidence makes it clear that breastfeeding does not matter.

      By the way, we are mammals and therefore we are not meant to wear clothes, live in climate controlled houses, or use computers. Do you do those things?

      • Captain Obvious

        Does any other mammal cook their foods? Maybe humans are doing something wrong here too. Her best argument for breast feeding is to compare intelligent and inventive humans with mammals who have no other means but to breastfed or die?Is this poster really suggesting that humans should regress and start living as other mammals do? Sexually we would be back in the 1970’s.

        • Captain Obvious

          How many other mammals use condoms?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The blue whale does, but it is very, very large

    • Captain Obvious

      Humans are quite different, more advanced, and more complicated, than any other mammal. Surely you get that? You don’t want to get into a debate of how humans should limit themselves and live how other mammals do? Liquid gold is often contaminated with mom’s medications. What percentage of women are on antidepressants? Drink alcohol? Have infections precluding them from nursing? How many other mammals in your classification scheme are on medication or drinking alcohol? How many other mammals have to go back to work in 6 weeks to help support their families? How many mammals have the opportunity to have the father or other family members feed the baby? How much vitamin D is in human breast milk? How many humans fail to realize they need to supplement? Do other mammals even have alternatives to feed their young, like formula offers? And if they could use alternatives would they? Why does a panda bear only nurse and care for one cub, only? And when they have two, without help of human zookeepers switching out the two cubs, one of those cubs would die. How many offspring of mammals die because of lack of nourishment or care from their mother? How many mammals need support from zookeepers and vets to survive because of abandoment? Humans are brilliant mammals able to accomplish astounding feats, formula is just one of them. When women were not breast feeding and using suboptimal alternatives to feed their young, formula was created. Formula was not created to dissuade women from nursing. But you all ready know that;-)

    • stacey

      Did you know that some moms in China have been exposed to so many toxins their milk is full of them? They buy non Chinese made formula if they can afford it.

      No one said formula was better, just that b milk isn’t so much better it really matters in the modern world. The exception is preemies, but even then, a proportion of moms do NOT make milk with the ability to protect against NEC!

      “Liquid gold”- come on now. I know you are invested in BF, but this is kinda overblown. I have 2 kids, one FF and one EBF, and there is no differences. When you can walk into a classroom and tell who was fed, what way, then I will consider it gold….

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I was under the impression that the “liquid gold” the nurses talked about in the hospital was the colostrum (which is actually yellow) and not just breast milk. The colostrum, while not filling like milk, is extremely dense in lots of good things. THAT is what makes it so precious.

    • Ainsley Nicholson

      No one is saying that a man-made replacement is BETTER than human milk. What Dr Amy and others here are saying is that the science shows it is not as much WORSE than human mik as some lactation advocates purport.

    • auntbea

      You have confused being “biologically able to” with “biologically made to”. If we did everything we were biologically able to, many of us would have many, many children, whether we wanted them or not. Many of us would also weigh 800 pounds. If that is what our bodies are made do, how can anyone argue that it is better to limit childrearing and watch our calories?

    • PJ

      ” It is the act of nourishing your baby with the perfect milk your body was able to make for them.”

      There’s NOTHING perfect about the human body. And this fetishisation of breastmilk as “liquid gold” is just … weird.

      • PJ

        And there is TOTALLY nothing judgy about referring to formula as “artificial baby milk”!

        • rh1985

          Oh well, my baby was artificially conceived in a petri dish, and might be artificially born, so what’s a little more artificial-ness on top of that

          • Kerlyssa

            Too bad you couldn’t artificially gestate. I guess you could try to make up for it by hatting with artificial fabrics.

          • rh1985

            That would be neat. I’m envisioning the baby floating in some kind of technological fish-tank type thing and I could constantly watch the baby grow and be reassured that everything is ok.

            I’d seriously stare for hours and hours every day though….

      • Durango

        Just to throw it out there: in nursing school when our teachers referred to “liquid gold” they were talking about urine. (A pt who isn’t making any/enough urine is in serious trouble so the presence of “liquid gold” was one measure of pt well-being.)

    • Kalacirya

      By your definition, I was biologically made to get knocked up rather often and have children repeatedly. And my birth control is an affront to my reproductive system and purpose as a human animal. The biological essentialist viewpoint isn’t going to get you very far here.

    • Anj Fabian

      It doesn’t have to be “better”. It only needs to be “not significantly worse than”.

    • Jennifer2

      So I shouldn’t shave my legs and armpits either because, as a mammal, I am biologically made to have body hair?

    • adri

      I don’t think she said it is better. It is a perfectly healthy alternative to human breast milk.

  • Breastfeeding also allows the mother and child to form a bond that is unlike anything else.

    • Bombshellrisa

      So adoptive and step parents are just screwed. And two dad families shouldn’t even bother thinking they could ever have a bond with their child. And two mom families: if one of you gave birth and breast feeds , tell your partner she can’t possibly have a bond with your child like you do.

      • Box of Salt

        Actually, Bombshell, “a bond that is unlike anything else” is a fairly bland and meaningless statement, avoiding overt value judgement.

        • KarenJJ

          Good point. You could say that about anything. Feeding my child chips forms a bond like no other, changing my baby’s nappy forms a bond like no other, letting my child run onto the freeway forms a bond like no other.

          That said, I breastfed and combo fed one baby and formula fed another and I love them both and they both manage to recognise me as their mum, give me cuddles and suffered separation anxiety when little and I left them. I have a bond like no other with both of them.

          • rh1985

            I guess fathers are screwed too since they can’t breast feed.

            This will be my first baby but I enjoyed cuddling my niece as I fed her bottles. It’s certainly possible to hold a bottle fed baby close, have eye contact, etc.

          • KarenJJ

            Yeah., poor old Dad. Unable to bond with his kids. Accidentally confusing them with the furniture and forgetting to feed them.

            Or maybe human beings are much more complicated and are able to love others. Even mammals seem to bond with others that haven’t breastfed them.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Accidentally confusing them with the furniture and forgetting to feed them.

            I actually do have a tendency to “forget” to feed my kids, mainly because we are so busy doing other stuff, like playing, that we don’t get around to eating at times they normally do with mom.

            Apparently that’s a consequence of lack of proper bonding.

        • amazonmom

          It seems that way until its used as a way to manipulate people out of supplementing.

          • Box of Salt

            amazonmom, I agree. But I refuse to be manipulated.

            I also think it was a very craftily worded statement.

            And it’s easy to take the teeth out of it.

        • auntbea

          Yes, rather hard to falsify that hypothesis, isn’t it?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Thinking about this topic, I was thinking, how dare someone say to my friends, who just adopted a little girl, that they won’t be able to bond with their baby. And then I realized the part of this sentence that is missing…”…like they can.”

        Do you ever notice that you don’t hear parents who formula fed their babies complaining that giving the bottle kept them from bonding? It seems that those who are insisting you need to BF to bond are those that breastfed. IOW, “You have to do it the way I did”

      • Happy Sheep

        Two dad families are screwed, but so are biological dad’s by this standard, unless they induce lactation that is.

    • LibrarianSarah

      Yeah I know anecdote does not equal evidence but I was bottle fed from birth land if my mom and I were any more “bonded” it would be considered a co-dependent relationship. Motherhood is a complicated relationship that develops over time it’s not as simple as open mouth insert boob.

      • Durango

        Mother-child bonding reduced to method of infant feeding. Why do people like Easy Breastfeeding believe such nonsense?

    • rh1985

      I am pretty sure breastfeeding would make it much harder to bond with the baby I am expecting based on health and personal issues…. why not let the mom decide and not judge her for it?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      No it doesn’t. That’s just another bit of crap fabricated by lactivists and believed by the gullible.

    • Box of Salt

      Easy BF,
      Every bond between every caregiver and every child is unique – “a bond unlike anything else.”

    • wookie130

      Yeah, because I’m so sure that each BFing session is spent gazing at your child, humming them lullabies, rocking them gently in a glider. Peaceful bliss, right? BFing NEVER means that your child is fighting you tooth & nail to latch, scratching up her face, clawing at your boobs, screaming, arching her back, while you weep from frustration. Or, perhaps the successful nursing session where you have achieved a latch, and you watch Lifetime movies in silence, eating cheese puffs, and texting people on your phone. Bonding unlike anything else there, I tell you.

      • wookie130

        Oh, I should also mention that I love looking into my daughter’s EYES while I feed her a bottle, rather than having to see that most of her face is swallowed by a boob, and I can’t even see her anyway. Consequently, she can look into my face also while she eats. THAT is beautiful, and bonding TO ME.

        • KarenJJ

          That was me too. I was so excited to finally have a baby but I felt like I never saw her. Breastfeeding constantly didn’t help with our bonding at all. After a few weeks and she still was not back to her birth weight and gaining slowly we started supplementing with bottles and I finally started getting to know her. Cuddling her and giving her a bottle were some of my favourite newborn moments.

    • Happy Sheep

      You know, I never really felt bonded with my oldest until I stopped breastfeeding. The stress and pain of low supply and his reflux issues made us both dread feeding and I spent large portions of my day either working to increase supply, worrying about breastfeeding or just being generally stressed about breastfeeding. When I finally went to to full ff, I could stare into his eyes, relax and smile while he happily drank his bottle, nestled in my arms and our relationship deepened from there on.

    • Karen in SC

      BALONEY.

      Unless there is a new scientific meter that measures “bondedness” of which I am unaware.

    • moto_librarian

      That’s true, but not necessarily in the way that you might think. My first son and I were forming a bond during our breastfeeding attempts – a bond of mutual resentment! I dreaded putting him to my empty breasts, listening to him scream in hunger and anger. Do you know what set us up for a strong and loving bond? Formula.

    • PJ

      What a load of bollocks.

  • K

    Fewer infant illnesses (colds etc.), for me, is enough of a reason for to give breastfeeding a serious try and keep going when the going gets tough. In my experience, a sick infant is harder than even hard breastfeeding (and I’ve had it hard–you name it, I’ve had it). To me, it’s distinctly different to state that I want to breastfeed my child because of the potential, even small benefits, than to state that I feel (or I should) guilty that my child doesn’t haven’t these benefits because I didn’t try or ceased breastfeeding. It’s not clear to me how the first statement gets warped into the second statement, but I think that’s the problem.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Fewer infant illnesses (colds etc.), for me, is enough of a reason for
      to give breastfeeding a serious try and keep going when the going gets
      tough.

      While breastfeeding does, all else being equal, reduce the number of things like colds, but those other things are very, very important. Recall the advice of our pediatrician when our first was born: don’t take him in public until you are ready for him to be sick.

      Indeed, he got his first cold at 1 mo old, after his baptism. After that, he remained mostly healthy until he was 14 mos old and started daycare. Then he got sick every week. But it wasn’t the breastfeeding that kept him well, it was the fact that he stayed home the whole first year.

      With our second, he was sick for almost his whole first year, even when he was at home, because his brother was going to daycare.

      Yeah, not breastfeeding might have made things a little worse (couldn’t have for the second, because he basically had a cold his whole first year), but it was a minor issue compared to other things.

    • Box of Salt

      In regards to breastfeeding protecting against illness, I’d like to share a little perspective from the point of view of having breast fed two infants without giving formula for that full first year, and who are both now in elementary school.

      My first child was hardly ever sick, in spite of teething on shopping cart handles during flu season. My second child suffered the first of many colds at about 3 weeks of age, and we had to prop up the head end of the bassinette to help with drainage (no, we’re not cosleepers – neither my husband nor I, both restless sleepers, would risk accidentally rolling over onto the baby in our bed).

      My first child has had antibiotics once, for a sinus infection at about 10 mo, and none since. My second child had the first ear infection at 5 mos, and continued to get them not quite often enough to warrant consideration for ear tubes, and including one infection resistant to multiple antibiotics.

      My first child and I both simultaneously suffered a nasty GI illness when my second child was 6 mos old. The younger child, just barely started on solids, didn’t get it. But neither did my husband, who got stuck with all the cleanup. Did antibodies from my breastmilk protect my younger child, or was it the fact that the baby wasn’t eating the same food as the two of us who got sick?

      In fall 2009, my second child (long since weaned and attending preschool) had presumed (not serious enough for testing by that time) H1N1 flu before the vaccine became available. My first child did not, in spite of being at both the same house and the same school.

      It’s n = 2. But both were “exclusively” breastfed, and their outcomes are seriously different. From my experience in terms of preventing illness, the breastfeeding just doesn’t matter. There are too many other factors involved (which is why I mentioned the post weaning H1N1).

      K, I’m with you on being able to provide those potential small benefits, if I can. I did.

      But this magical ability of breastfeeding to prevent illness is oversold.

      • K

        “But this magical ability of breastfeeding to prevent illness is oversold.”

        Absolutely, I agree with you. I didn’t go into breastfeeding vs. formula decision expecting my child to acquire invincibility powers. But I did want a chance at a reducing length and severity of illnesses.

        In my own inexperience (also n=2), my less breastfed infant was ill more often and more severely. Despite this difference, I concede that I have no idea if the breastfeeding I did had any effect. There’s simply no way to control all the variables to measure the effect. I didn’t expect it to be a panacea, just risk reduction.

        • Wren

          n=2 here as well. The longer breastfed kid was ill more. Of course, she also had a big brother to bring home more diseases.
          She has had less ear infections, at none, but my son has only had them after long haul flights and when he had chicken pox (vaccine isn’t on the schedule here sadly).

  • Hava NaturalMama

    While I agree with your point about the benefits of breast feeding being overemphasized, these graphs are a deceptive way to show that. There are SO many variables that infant mortality, life expectancy, and IQ over that time periods, and those could easily obscure the effects of breast feeding. It is more accurate to look at studies that at least try to control for those effects.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      But if all those other effects obscure the effects of breastfeeding, that just emphasizes the point that the effects of breastfeeding are not big enough to be worrying about, and those other factors are far more important. It doesn’t diminish the message, it IS the message!

      • tim

        Agreed – if it was so utterly unquestionably superior, it would cut right through all the noise and show on these charts. The benefits are insignificant enough that they get lost in all the other noise (factors) of life on the chart, meaning that they aren’t worth denigrating other mothers over and spewing hyperbole like “its child abuse”

    • Mariana Baca

      Yes, there are other variables — but breastfeeding suffered a 50% decrease and 100% increase in rates. If that is not enough to show effects in the population, it is not a relevant public health issue. It might be a good individual choice, still. Correlating graphs to vaccination rates show that it has a direct effect on many of these charts.

  • AllieFoyle

    I think breastfeeding does have some clear advantages, especially on a population level and in certain circumstances (preemies, places without access to clean water), but modest advantages should be understood in the context of other factors before making blanket statements and recommendations. How substantial is the evidence for recommending breastfeeding beyond 6 months? 9 months? a year? exclusive breastfeeding vs. combination feeding? At some point there is a diminishing return, and breastfeeding is very time-intensive, yet there is never any acknowledgement of this, just the unquestionable dogma that breastfeeding is always better. Is it really better to be breastfed at 9 months if it’s a strain on family finances or contributes to maternal depression? Is it worth making women feel they’ve failed at their first task in motherhood if it doesn’t work for them?

  • shrug

    leaving this anonymously (because it sounds boastful) but I was an unplanned formula-fed baby born to decidedly unintellectual parents (this is not a critique; they would agree). I could read at age 2 and scored off the charts on iq tests. I have done quite a lot for my age so far, including attending and working for top universities, mastering a number of languages, and publishing multiple books. I’ll receive my PhD by the age of 30 only because I took time off to publish. Sure it is one anecdote, and of course the trend should continue to be studied properly, but it pains me to hear mothers agonizing over feeding their babies formula. My mom fed me formula and also kind of hated me. And yet here I am. If formula made me dumber than I should have been, well, . . . can you tell?

    • adri

      The lactivists would tell you “imagine how much smarter you would have been if you were breastfeed”.

  • I half wonder if all the negative impacts of “not breastfeeding” are really more in keeping with the negative impacts of not being able to do something that you have wanted to do and have been told (repeatedly) is important to do. Namely: maternal guilt, and depression. It would be interesting to do a study of those who felt good about formula feeding versus those who do not feel good about it…and those who felt good about breastfeeding versus those who do not feel good about it as I think there might be a link between mother’s state of mind and outcomes

  • thankfulmom

    In a message board discussion it was suggested that a nursing mother who already had chicken pox will produce more antibodies to chicken pox.

    I wondered how one could produce more antibodies to something they are already immune to and was told that being in close proximity will trigger the mom’s immune system to put more antibodies into the milk supply to protect the baby.

    I’ve heard of that regarding colds and whatever other germs are going around…but against a disease a person has had once before? Thoughts? Fact or fiction?

    • auntbea

      Isn’t the reason you are immune to something because your body can recognize it and more effectively send out antibodies? I would think that’s right. Whether they get into the milk, or survive digestion long enough to help the baby, is something I don’t know.

      • KarenJJ

        Apparently some anti-bodies can pass through breastmilk and small babies can absorb some of these anti-bodies into their bloodstream. After they get to a certain age (I have no idea what age that is), babies stop absorbing anti-bodies and start digesting them like any other protein.

        That’s how it was explained to me by a paediatric immunologist – looking at it in the context as to whether I should breastfeed or not when I also take a medication that is a modified anti-body.

        • Guest

          Actually most maternal antibodies are passed on to the child during pregnancy.

          • KarenJJ

            Oh yes this. I wish more people understood that. It was one of my motivations to getting the flu shot while pregnant as my second baby was born just before flu season started. I was crossing my fingers hoping he’d stay inside until after that season’s flu shot was released.

          • Mac Sherbert

            Yes. My OB highly recommended I go ahead and get both the flu and pertussis vaccine while pregnant. She said she had read studies that showed they gave the baby some immunity, if given when pregnant.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        You pass IgA antibodies through breast milk. IgA antibodies are the main defenders and attackers in intestinal infections and they seem to be helpers in all other mucosal type infections. Infants circulate these antibodies for up to 6 months. That means that they are found places other than the intestines where they go passively through eating. The immunity is passive as no new antibody producing memory cells are made. Antibodies can last some days to a couple weeks, so new ones from more milk is required. It is thought that after the antibodies are no longer circulated they may still have some activity in the intestines.

    • AllieFoyle

      Antibodies are made in response to an infection, so if you have chicken pox, your body manufactures them as part of its immune response and then they stick around and recognize the virus if you are exposed to it again, allowing your body to quickly mount an immune response so you don’t get sick. My understanding is that some antibodies can be passed on to babies through breast milk, but only very early–the first few weeks or months, I think–and the immunity provided by them generally wanes quickly too.

      So there may be some helpful effect from passive immunity, but I don’t know that I’d want to rely on it.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I recently read an article that said grandparents who live with their grandchildren during the time they get chicken pox vaccines produce an almost equivalent immune response as people the same age who received a shingles vaccine.
      Your adaptive immune system is set up with a memory system for antibodies. This is how vaccines work to keep people healthy. Some antibodies will not be activated unless there is an established infection with the pathogen that carries the recognized antigen, but others will be activated when you come into any kind of contact with the antigen. Chicken pox is particularly good for this because you need a small life long supply of circulating antibodies so that the population of virus is low enough so that you do not get shingles.
      I am not sure breast feeding would make a huge difference in a chicken pox outbreak. I would think it would do little in preventing an infection, but might help fight off an infection faster with less complications maybe. It was immensely beneficial for polio epidemics in the past because it is intestinal.

    • Ainsley Nicholson

      The chickenpox virus is differant from some of the other viruses that confer life-long immunity in that once someone been infected with it, it will hide out in their nervous system for the rest of their life, usually not causing symptoms or being infectious (until they develop shingles later in life).

  • Denise Denning

    What about reduced breast cancer risk? The National Cancer Institute says that breast-feeding may confer a slight benefit, and this benefit may be greater for women carrying those BRCA mutations that result in a greater cancer risk. I concede I haven’t looked at the studies in detail, but I suspect the numbers of women with BRCA mutations aren’t great enough to reach a conclusion either way.

    To be clear, I’m completely on-side with science-based pronouncements on the benefits (marginal) of breast-feeding. My own anecdote: my daughter at ten months started getting recurrent ear infections. When I expressed my frustration to friends, many of them kept saying, “DON’T give her cow’s milk, and keep breast-feeding!” Um, I wasn’t giving any cow’s milk; just expressed breast milk in her cereal (yes, I was a zealot). But the ear infections continued to recur every 2 weeks until they mysteriously stopped around 20 months.

    Definitely, overstating the benefits of breast-feeding is used to shame and blame women. But I think stating that breast-feeding is equivalent to formula-feeding is a mistake.

    • Elizabeth A

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, and hear a fair bit about how women who breast feed don’t get cancer, with the side helping of “if you’d breast fed, you wouldn’t be in this fix.” Between my two children, I breast fed for a total of 3 years, so I get really shirty about this stuff.

      The research I’ve seen on breast feeding and cancer risk requires a fairly long time breast feeding for a fairly small benefit. There are plenty of reasons to evaluate that trade and decide it’s not worth it for you, and I say that with vivid knowledge of how unpleasant cancer is.

      I think that, socially, we could make a lot of progress by singing the praises of combination feeding. Babies would get the benefits of at least some breast milk, and mothers would get increased flexibility, and more of the health benefits of breast feeding.

      • guest

        I once encountered a mom online whose doctor was quite worried that her older breastfed baby was not only not starting solids, but was repulsed by solids. She was told he would become anemic if they didn’t get on that. I suggested that if she was worried she could also try mixing a little iron supplemented formula into bottles of breastmilk. I was immediately countered by Kellymom followers who said that formula would corrupt the immune protection provided by breastfeeding, interfere with his absorption of iron and zinc, and potentially slow his growth. The lactivists that I have encountered seem to fall into two groups – the ones who say that any amount of breastmilk is better than no breastmilk, and the ones who say that any amount of formula will wipe out the positive effects of breastmilk. I suspect that the opinions of the latter group prevents people from advocating combination feeding.
        Also – cancer at 36. That is heart stopping. I hope you were able to kick its ass.

      • MichelleJo

        I really hate to say this, because the women I am referring to were very dear to me and also good, giving, people. In the last decade, seven women in my community have passed away from cancer. I know that two had breast cancer, the others I don’t know. Out of these seven women, four had 13-18 children, all who were breastfed. Conversely, out of the eight families in the community (of 400 families) who have 13+ kids, four have died of cancer. They were all in their fifties, and left teenagers behind.

        I know this is anec-data and doesn’t prove that having or breastfeeding a large number of babies raises your risk for cancer, but it does show that you absolutely CANNOT rely on breastfeeding to protect you.

        Yet people take the claim that breastfeeding reduces your cancer risk to skip having their well checks, even though they are advised for all women, whether they have had kids or not, breastfed them or not. In a conversation recently with a very good friend of mine who is right into the woo but we generally avoid the subject, we were discussing going for a yearly visit to a surgeon for a chest exam as is advised. She told me that she has never been, and it’s not that important for her, because with every baby she has nursed, her chances of cancer have dropped significantly.

        So much misinformation and biases out there…

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        My understanding is also that that the benefit comes from pregnancy as well as breastfeeding, but only if it’s very early in the woman’s life: the baby needs to be born while she’s still in her teens. That’s less common now than it was in the past.

  • Durango

    As an aside, I wonder what the long-term effects of breastfeeding are on the mother. As our earth mother’s picture showed, many, many women nurse slumped over. I wonder how that affects our backs down the road. My old back is not what it was, but I have no idea how much of that, if any, is due to the years of breastfeeding.

    I also remember seeing somewhere that the mother’s body will give it’s calcium to the baby at the expense of the mother’s body. Any truth to that?

    • Denise Denning

      I was either pregnant or breast-feeding, or both, for about 5 years in my early 30s between two pregnancies. My back was killing me. I certainly have much less back pain now, at 49, than I did then. But I thought it was the price we paid to have the healthiest possible babies. And I thought I would have had less back pain if I’d had my babies in my twenties, like mother nature intended. Such is the anti-woman maternal message in our culture.

  • niam2810

    I used to post on the old home birth site about 7 years ago, and have been catching up on this site for a while. What on earth has happened?, America seems to have gone a bit mad, is it an education thing that people don’t seems able to grasp basic science?

    Three of my children were formula fed for various reasons, one was breast fed. Breast feeding was more convenient, and my daughter did seems to suffer less than the boys with colds to start with but that was just as likely coincidence.

    There seems to be some very judgmental people out there, using a lot of rubbish to back up their opinions, and it seems to be far worse it the states then here, (I’m in the UK).

    I have noticed there seems to be far more of a religious element in the sort of magical thinking on American sites than British ones, has anyone elses noticed this?

    • JoannaDW

      Yes, and I’m an American. I know that part of it is because of our religious culture. We have a strong religious right that believes strongly in the proper role of women, doesn’t believe in evolution or modern medicine, has a distrust of authority, a fetish for the past, and so on. Those belief systems tend to lend themselves to causes such as lactivism, natural birthing, and anti-vaccination. Alas, this element has grown enough and the sentiments held by that subculture have gone mainstream.

      • Esther

        Those elements seem to be equally at play, if not more so, on the nature-worshipping, extreme environmentalist left of the American political map than on the right. It certainly seems that NCB advocacy, and nature-worship in general, is a ‘disease’ of both political extremes.

        • JoannaDW

          Lol, I guess logical fallacies don’t discriminate.:) In any case, in both extremes, there’s the classic American individualism, emphasis on personal experience and personal choice, distrust of authority, etc. All fine qualities in moderation, but in the wrong hands, can be deadly.

    • Dr Kitty

      Yes.
      I’m in the UK too, and our general attitude is “meh” to religion, with apathetic liberalism (“I don’t care what you do as long as I don’t have to do anything”) rather than individualism being the driver.

      Mumsnet excepted, because those ladies are cray-cray.

      • niam2810

        Hi,
        Interesting you mention mumsnet, although there a good few crunchies, it’s still a lot more balanced than mothering.com!

    • Meerkat

      Yes, but it’s not traditional religion, at least not in my area of North East USA. It’s more yoga culture, nature warship, anti- traditional medicine mish mash.

      • AllieFoyle

        Hey, don’t knock yoga and nature.

        I think it has more to do with social hierarchies and wanting to belong to certain groups and prove that you are better than others, with a little extra helping of misogyny.

        • Meerkat

          Oh, I love yoga and nature! It’s also fashionable, so a lot of people in my social circle become neo hippies or weekend hippies as I like to call them.

  • C T

    Breastfeeding matters to me if I can significantly decrease my chances of getting Alzheimers! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10223204/Breastfeeding-lowers-Alzheimers-risk.html

    • Zornorph

      Don’t you remember that you already posted this a couple of times before?

      • C T

        Are you sure it was me? I don’t remember ever posting that. It seems like recently published findings, and I haven’t read this blog since last week.
        Regardless, breastfeeding matters, i.e., it appears to be behind statistically significant differences in health outcomes. Is it worth sanctimonious fuss, child endangerment, and downright meanness? No. But ignoring the benefits is not science.

        • C T

          Oh, I get it. You were making a joke. I’ve always been too literal, I’m afraid.

  • StatsGirl

    You keep saying that about IQ tests, and it makes it sound like you’re not distinguishing between the error on a single test and the error on the mean. For those who aren’t so up on statistics, if you give Andy two IQ tests, it’s likely that they would be within, say, 5 points of each other. If you have him 200 IQ tests and averaged the odd-numbered tests into one score and the even-numbered tests into another score, those two scores would probably be within 0.5 points of one another.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_error

    I doubt that Dr. Amy has any trouble with the statistics on this level, but I worry that it’s misleading. IQ tests averaged over over a large population can absolutely detect meaningful changes that are smaller than the random error on individual tests. None of which is to say that you should wring your hands over breastfeeding, or over a couple IQ points in general, but the error bar on an IQ test isn’t something that’s wrong with the study.

    • auntbea

      I *believe* the argument is that the difference is small enough that an IQ test cannot
      distinguish between an individual who was breastfed and the
      counterfactual same individual who was not, because the true value of
      one would be within the margin of error of the other.

      • KarenJJ

        That also helps clear up another question I’d forgotten I’d had buzzing around in my head. Thanks for the awesome example of what ‘counterfactual’ means.

  • PoopDoc

    There was some blither blather on NPR recently about how childhood obesity seems to be on the decline in impoverished populations in the US. And how breast feeding had something to do with that. Ugh.

    • Kalacirya

      CDC released some things about it yesterday so that’s why there’s all the buzz about it.

    • Amy M

      Isn’t there a giant correlation between obesity (childhood and adult) and poverty? While the rest of the world may not realize, poverty is actually a huge problem in the US and while it might be assumed that poor people would be thin (like starving) that doesn’t seem to be the case. My understanding of the issue is that the cheaper food is the less healthy, more fattening food, and the wealthier segments of population of course have the money and the time to eat better. And to breastfeed as well…but my point being that wouldn’t lifestyle/ economic status have a greater impact on obesity than what infants eat in the first year?

      • Kalacirya

        I don’t think anyone would argue that breastfeeding has a bigger impact than economic status (maybe someone really looney, but not the average lactivist).

        I can’t speak for lactivists, but I think to some degree, public health workers (in NYS at the state gov’t level, there’s an escalating push for breastfeeding), focus on things that they feel like they can effect change in. From a public health standpoint only, without intersectional participation from government as a whole, they can’t do much of anything about socioeconomic status, but they can encourage breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is especially appealing because it isn’t very expensive, so any gain that they could get from it would likely be cost effective in a field really straining for funding. So they get really excited about breastfeeding and I think the excitement predates the substantial evidence.

        Honestly I can see it from both sides, and I couldn’t tell you what a better way to spend their money and time could be.

        What I’m afraid of, is that as the NYS prevention agenda ramps up, we get this huge push for more Baby Friendly hospitals, more breastfeeding, and then we finally get some data about the status of the population after the initiatives have been implemented. And now you’re going have a whole lot of people out there fiddling with statistical models in a desperate attempt to get the p-value to validate the money and emphasis that was placed on the effort. That’s not a great place to be.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “Honestly I can see it from both sides, and I couldn’t tell you what a better way to spend their money and time could be.
          As somebody who works with these populations, I can think of about 1,000 better ways to spend that money. How about a “Healthy kids drink water” campaign. Or “Read and sing to your kids”. Or “Attend parent teacher conferences, they matter”. Or “Here’s what a asthma controller is for”. Or “Here’s help to quit smoking”. Holy buckets I could go on and on and on….

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Or vaccinate your children according to the CDC schedule! That would actually save lives instead of lactivism, which just boosts the egos of lactivists.

          • fiftyfifty1

            But Kalacirya was talking about attempts to help close class-based health outcome gaps. I don’t get much resistance to vaccination from parents of low socioeconomic status (except from the Somali community which is currently on the MMR/Autism bandwagon). The barrier to getting shots for kids in the low SES groups is mostly lack of insurance and lack of rides to the clinic, not unwillingness on the part of those parents to follow the CDC schedule.

          • Kalacirya

            I know in my area, the large sliding scale clinics have a wait time for appointments that is months long, they basically can’t take new patients anymore.

          • Mariana Baca

            They should offer shots at local public schools once a every few months or something. (hold a clinic, subsidized fees, sort of like petco having discount vaccinations once a month, not mandatory). Parents can usually get their kids to the school (if not, bus system is already in place).

          • QB

            Miss Amy, why do you insist feeding your children chemical nonsense that is loaded with indigestible materials and BPA, is acceptable? I thought you were just anti-homebirth because you feel its unsafe, but it seems you are anti-natural and pro-pervert, even if things like breast milk has been statistically proven to boast the health of the children. Hospitals and OB/GYNs are encouraging it, so why aren’t you? Is it because you let your license lapse over a century ago, and you didn’t practice medical care very long to begin with? You seem to have a deep animosity to doing everything the way your god intended it to be, (assuming you’re Christian). And this animosity has absolutely no logic or point.

            Currently the W.H.O is trying to encourage more mothers to breastfeed their children for at least 6 months to a year, nationally they are trying to encourage women to breastfeed until their child is done with toddlerhood.

            What’s found in formula is not nearly the superior nutritional standard as it is with a mother’s bosom. If you do not believe me, please click the pdf to see the nutritional differences and biochemical components that separates synthetic milk from the biologically intended milk a human offspring was evolved over the course of millions of years to suckle after a unassisted birth.

            http://www.bcbabyfriendly.ca/whatsinbreastmilkposter.pdf

            Human breastmilk has a outstanding and overwhelming amount of vitamins and minerals that is the gold nutritional standard, being that formula is manmade and didn’t exist just a few hundred years ago.

            Licensed* (something you lack) professionals all agree that women indeed do need to breastfeed their children and there are risks associated with mothers not taking the step to do so. Miss Amy, this is a ten page long journal about the consequences of not Breastfeeding written by Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc. Unlike you, she is a licensed professional, and unlike you she is a professor of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.

            “Health outcomes in developed countries differ substantially for mothers and infants who formula feed compared with those who breastfeed. For infants, not being breastfed is associated with an increased incidence of infectious morbidity, as well as elevated risks of childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome. For mothers, failure to breastfeed is associated with an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and the metabolic syndrome. Obstetricians are uniquely positioned to counsel mothers about the health impact of breastfeeding and to ensure that mothers and infants receive appropriate, evidence-based care, starting at birth.”

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/pdf/RIOG002004_0222.pdf

            By this licensed* OBGYN’s words you are not doing your job:

            “The Obstetrician’s Role in Supporting Breastfeeding
            During Antenatal Care

            Do not participate in formula marketing programs.

            Ask the patient, “What have you heard about breastfeeding?” Respond to her concerns and educate her about medical recommendations for 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.

            Provide anticipatory guidance about early initiation of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care, feeding on demand, and rooming in.

            For women with a history of breast reduction surgery or a difficult feeding experience with a prior child, refer to a lactation consultant for an antenatal consult.

            Intrapartum

            Provide anticipatory guidance about establishment of breastfeeding.

            For women undergoing cesarean deliveries, encourage skin-to-skin contact in the recovery room to facilitate establishment of breastfeeding.

            Educate labor floor staff about the importance of skin-to-skin contact.

            During the Postpartum Hospitalization

            Ask “How is breastfeeding going?” Respond to specific concerns and emphasize recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.

            Encourage rooming in and feeding on demand.

            Ensure involvement of a lactation consultant if there is pain during feeding beyond the initial latch.

            Collaborate with pediatric providers regarding maternal medications that may be of concern during breastfeeding. Use LactMed as a reference for evidence-based reviews of medication safety.

            Provide referrals to breastfeeding resources in the community.

            At the Postpartum Visit

            Ask “How is breastfeeding going?” Respond to specific concerns and emphasize recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.

            Provide guidance on expression of milk for return to school or work.

            Offer to sign a letter to her employer regarding the importance of accommodations to allow continued breastfeeding. (Sample available at http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/programs/business-case/outreach-marketing-resources.pdf.)

            Work with lactation consultants in your community to manage pain, low milk supply, or other breastfeeding concerns.

            At Annual Well-Woman Visits

            • Assess whether patients are currently breastfeeding.
            • Be aware that the WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION recommends a minimum of 2 years of breastfeeding for each infant”

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/pdf/RIOG002004_0222.pdf

            By the words of a licensed practicing professional and representative of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, you aren’t a credible or good source, you aren’t doing your job and you are a heck of a quack doctor, Miss Amy. Please pay attention to your kids, and stop making a fool of yourself. You aren’t a special or significantly intelligent doctor. You are unlicensed, haven’t been in a hospital for years, unfamiliar to new science, haven’t practiced for a long time, and you have daddy issues. Get your life together and leave natural parents alone!

          • Sarah, PharmD

            Had to vote this fooleywang down, even though I fell asleep before I could finish reading it.

          • QB

            Shows the attention span of a common idiot. Most of what I wrote was quoted from By the words of a licensed practicing professional and representative of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

            I’m sorry credible information scares you, and you are illeterate enough to not work through a highschool level intensity page.

          • Karen in SC

            I’m pretty sure that Sarah has a Dr. of Pharmacy and is hardly an idiot.

          • Rebecca

            Or maybe it’s the fact that your entire first paragraph is an extended ad-hominem, including the utterly baffling accusation that Dr. Amy is “pro-pervert”.

          • Box of Salt

            If you are trying to present credible information, don’t start off by accusing your opponent of letting her “license lapse over a century ago.”

            Once you wrote that, all I could do was laugh at you. Never mind “(assuming you’re Christian).” Hint: read some more posts and their comments.

          • QB

            Why are you laughing when you’re the one taking advice from a unlicensed blogger, who promoting you not to breastfeed? Don’t you think it’s a little silly to take the post of a blogger seriously when the CDC, World Health Organization, and Amercian Pediatrics (a group of licensed and trained professionals and researchers) already demand a woman to breastfeed for 6 months to toddlerhood? Do you understand that information is demanditory for OBGYNs to tell to their patients in hospitals, these days? We sit in siminars and lectures to learn about all the stuff I quoted and posted about. If we were to say any of the nonsense of this blog, we would be fired for misinformation.

            Down at the office, we (nurses and OBs)laugh at this blog and the commenters like you who actually believe this woman. She’s full of nonsense.

          • suchende

            Elizabeth Warren let her law license lapse. Didn’t seem to bother Harvard Law much.

          • Kalacirya

            “…*demanditory* for OBGYNs to tell to their patients in hospitals, these days? We sit in *siminars*…”

            Siminars for simians, perhaps.

          • Meerkat

            “Demanditory” shall be my new favorite word. It will replace “nucular” and “motherbaby”

          • Kalacirya

            Misunderestimation?

          • auntbea

            Envisualize?

          • Meerkat

            That’s a good one!

          • Kalacirya

            I stole that one from George W. Bush.

          • I never trust writers who’ve let their blogging licenses lapse. That’s just irresponsible.

          • Box of Salt

            QB, I’m laughing because I can’t take your posts seriously. Your responses are no more credible than your initial wall of text with some links thrown in. You can’t do math. I’ll quote you again: “Is it because you let your license lapse over a century ago.” That makes Dr Amy well over a 100 years old.

            And you can’t read: here’s what’s actually on the WHO Breastfeeding page:
            “Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”
            http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/

            Where’s the demand in that?

            And you trying to claim she’s the one full of nonsense?

          • Box of Salt

            QB, it’s occurred to me that in addition to the possibility already raised that your posts are satire, perhaps English is not your primary (first or most often used), or that you are under the influence.

            I hope for your sake it’s one of the two former.

          • Kalacirya

            It’s midnight over here on the east coast, which is a pretty reasonable time to be trashed. We could take bets on how many boxes of Franzia it took to get QB here.

          • Box of Salt

            Kalcirya ” a pretty reasonable time to be trashed”
            Dang. I just noticed I left out the “are” in my last sentence (between you and trying), and since I’m not on the east coast I don’t have that excuse. Just lousy proofreading skills.

          • Box of Salt

            And to prove my point about lousy proofreading I left out one of the “a”s in Kalacirya.

          • Box of Salt

            Dang again! Perhaps English is not your primary * language,* in case that slipped past anyone.

          • Jennifer2

            The CDC, AAP and WHO *demand* a woman breastfeed from 6 months to toddlerhood? Well, then turn me in because I only breastfed for 7 weeks (and did a pretty shitty job of it at that, not for lack of trying). What will happen to me for not acquiescing to their demands? Will I be fined? Is it a criminal offense? Or just a demerit on my permanent record? Will my son be taken away from me and sent to live with a nice lactating woman? Can I at least send him to live with my best friend who still nurses her 18 month old? I mean I don’t know if he would have any desire to nurse or even really remember how. But since he’s still a toddler (I think…what’s the cutoff age for toddlerhood? He’ll be 3 this fall.) if he needs to be breastfed at least she’s capable of it. Can he come back to live with me and my husband once he’s older, or have we so horribly scarred him for life by failing him during his infancy that we can’t be trusted to do better as he gets older?

          • rh1985

            she is not promoting that women not breastfeed. she thinks women should make the best choice for their situation, whether that is breastfeeding, formula feeding, or a mix of both. she actually recognizes reality – that there are situations where the downsides of breastfeeding outweigh the benefits and that in those situations, moms can make the decision for their own children that formula is the better option for THEIR INDIVIDUAL SITUATION.

          • Sue

            Let me guess – down at the office, where there are nurses and OBs, this “QB” person is not an OB, right?

            So why does he/she keep mentioning OBs? Some sort of inferiority complex, I guess.

          • Box of Salt

            Sue, it gets better. In a later comment (which may be threaded higher up) she put it as “we OBs and RNs.”

            I’m really hoping her professional claims are fiction.

          • Lizzie Dee

            Yes, that’s right – Dr Amy says that bf isn’t all it is cracked up to be, and we all tuck our breasts away without further thought. Or, maybe, we read the same reports she does,and you do, and your instructors do, and find ourselves not quite so easily convinced as some that bf is the cure for all bodily ills because the evidence has a few holes in it.

            Your posts bring into my mind the observation that “a little learning is a dangerous thing…”, and to be honest the thought of all those training sessions and seminars really depresses me. You are being told – and it is correct – that bf is good and beneficial. So far, so good. You are very impressed by the facts and figures, and the exhortations to share and influence, and you do not, it seems, bother to question. But then you go from bf is good to bf is some kind of moral imperative – and from there it all gets a bit out of proportion.

            In my daily life, I come across a lot of people who also attend seminars and lectures and training sessions concerning the latest theoretical approaches to people with complex disabilities. Some of these theories may have some validity. By the time they have been filtered through the minds of the not very bright, they are the bane of my life, as they make very little allowance for the personal idiosyncracies of the people on the receiving end, and frequently, if not invariably, do more harm than good. They change every couple of years as well. Research is not static – and these days, not always that reliable either.

            No-one here is hostile to bf. Just bored to death with well meaning idiots.

          • GuestB

            If you think Dr. Amy is promoting anyone to NOT breastfeed, then you have some serious reading comprehension issues.

          • AllieFoyle

            demanditory !!!

          • Tim

            I am in love with reading this post repeatedly. There is nothing quite so awesome as someone spitting childish insults about peoples intelligence on the internet while making a whole host of spelling and grammatical errors, especially when they take the time to carefully accuse their opponent of illiteracy while misspelling it.

            Could you let me know the full credentials of your cited source again? It’s slipping from my memory.

          • BeatlesFan

            Misspelling “illiterate” while accusing someone of being illiterate is right up there with the time-honored internet insult of “your a moron!”

          • Kalacirya

            No you doofus. it’s ileterate, because one lacks letters. Be smurt here Tim, try harder.

          • Sarah, PharmD

            That was epic. Strong work. Oh, and it’s Dr. Common Idiot to you, thanks. Or Professor Common Idiot, if you prefer.

          • Sue

            Is ”QB”” some sort of abbreviation for DUNNING-KRUGER?

          • theNormalDistribution

            What’s this ‘intensity page’ you speak of?

          • BeatlesFan

            A few points:

            1) Dr. Amy breastfed all 4 of her children. Just because she points out flaws in lactivists’ claims doesn’t mean she’s anti-breastfeeding.

            2) Please explain how Dr. Amy is “pro-pervert”?

            3) Please explain how Dr. Amy is “unfamiliar to new science”, yet you are totally reputable based on the hyperlink salad you posted.

            4) “Daddy issues”? Again, where did this come from? That doesn’t even make sense. Was that seriously the best insult you could think up?

            5) Dr. Amy is Jewish, not Christian. That isn’t really relevant, but neither was your assumption that she’s Christian. Her religious beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with the information on this blog.

            6) It doesn’t matter if she hasn’t practiced in a hospital for years. She is a doctor, she earned her title, and being retired doesn’t mean she can’t or doesn’t keep up with medical literature and studies. Search this site a bit more between insults and you’ll find plenty of posts about studies and statistics.

            7) Do you tell Ina May, The Alpha Parent, The Feminist Bragger, Birth Without Fear, or any of the other “all-natural” blogging mothers to pay attention to their kids? Or is it okay for them to spend their time online because you agree with them?

            8) ad hominem attacks don’t help you prove your point. They hurt you, in fact, because that’s when most of us stop taking you seriously.

            Have a lovely day.

          • QB

            Thank you for your points, let me answer them.

            1) Good for her! (If she isn’t lying) I don’t think breastfeeding children qualifies her to make false and invalid claims against the importance of breastfeeding. The World Health Organization and American Pediatrics all demand a woman to breastfeed her child at least 6 months to a year. It’s becoming so much of a important part of infanthood, hospitals (much like the one I work for) are demanding workers to practice skin-to-skin (a postpartum medically recognized neonatal care technique) to encourage breastfeeding and successful latching. They are also making us nurses coerce new mothers into breastfeeding their children. We nurses are now being required to sit through seminars and lectures to learn about all the benefits so we can teach it to the moms.

            2) *Blogger Amy, ma’am. You have to have a *license to be a *doctor. Pervert by definition, means someone who obscures or leads away from what is natural. Breastfeeding is natural, but Amy doesn’t support it. Vaginal deliveries are natural as well, but Amy doesn’t support it. Herbal remedies are natural, but Amy doesn’t support it either.

            3) Its hard to read past the condescending sarcasm, darling, however I will still try. She is still unaware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Her science comes from the interwebs, or her severely dated 2001 citations, mine come from 2013 college level medical books, the journals from a licensed professional of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC I posted and quoted from.

            4) No. But I’m quite familiar to her biography.

            http://www.open.salon.com/blog/amytuteurmd/2009/04/02/they_committed_malpractice_on_my_dad_and_got_away_with_it

            From a psychologist standpoint she’s may be redirecting the painful lost of her father on natural childbirth advocates.

            5) Its the same god, sweetheart. The Old Testament is the Torah. It matters because it shows her religious bigotry that was shown when she smashed gay parenting. My point was that if she’s a religious theist then surely she’s support “god’s work”. “God” made a woman’s breasts to give biologically perfect milk, and her vagina to open and deliver newborns. Why would she object to that and call in silly, when it was “god’s” will in the first place?

            6) Doctors need to have licenses to qualify as professional and reliable physicians. Every year, medicine and medical understanding changes and the system needs to know that their employers are up to date and haven’t forgot what they have learned (I’ve worked as a RN orientation instructor and yes, it does happen). I know you’re very ignorant about the medical field, but take it from a registered nurse, licenses are critically important. She’s not a researcher, nor has of her “studies” been recognized by pediatric organizations because no one in their right mind would take kitchen counter calculations from a physician who hasn’t practiced in decades.

            7) I do actually. I say they are correct (WHEN they are correct), then I mention how being with their kids may be more important. Honestly, I don’t spend that much time in the internet as you do to know all these people, all I know is the Alpha Lady.

            8) I didn’t know cited evidence from The World Health Organization, American Pediatrics and journals from a licensed professionals of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC wasn’t good enough information. In my seminars we are constantly using these globally recognized health organizations for how we treat our clients and how we interact with small children, but if you think advice from a unlicensed doctor’s unrecognized blog is a more credible source of information, so be it. But please don’t go to hospitals talking about what you learned about her and how you’re not going to breastfeed your infant because doctor Amy said it was not necessary, we may laugh in your face

            @Have a lovely day.

            You too, sweetie! 😉

          • suchende

            You’re being made to coerce mothers into breastfeeding?

            I need to sit around a while and try to come up with a cause of action to sue hospitals that do this.

          • Kalacirya

            No, a retired doctor that has let their license lapse is stil a doctor. So you’re 100% wrong.

            They’re not a licensed medical practitioner, they’re not treating patients, but they are still doctors.

          • QB

            Says the commenter who is not a licensed practitioner in the medical field. We have to take courses every other year to guarantee we are up to date with the new science. Please know who you are talking to, you are taking to someone who has been in the system for 16 years. Amy is quake, and we all know this. Maybe not you because you are gullible, but us OBs and RNs do.

          • Kalacirya

            Amy is a quake, was it? I have professors that are no longer licensed medical practicioners, they do not practice on patients, but they’re still doctors.

          • QB

            I promise, this will be the last time i type a response on this godforsaken android. Yes, I mean “a”. Professors aren’t practitioners but they are still educated the same way practioners are. Professors renew licenses too. Amy doesn’t. Her resources come from the internet.

          • Kalacirya

            I’m a godforsaken android with more education than you, go figure. ^_~

            And no, not all professors that were formerly practicioners renew their licenses.

          • I think the android she was referring to was her phone… not you. As in phone = typos.

          • Kalacirya

            And I wound up hitting delete instead of edit there, so now it’s labeled as guest. Whoopsies and there’s no amending it now.

            Anyway, in general I was just ragging on her spelling because she decided someone illiterate because people were all tl;dr about her offering.

          • I know. And following her grammar patterns, the comment actually might be calling you a robot, who knows.

            I’m trying not to poke the troll, but it’s hard. I’m still waiting for the explanation of how Amy was gay bashing…

          • Box of Salt

            Meagan “following her grammar patterns,” I’m sure she’d like to blame all those errors on the android, too. Though you’d think that if an android were in charge of her comments the logic would be better ;-).
            (Which ones are the godforsaken androids? Lore? Ash?)

          • Poogles

            “I’m still waiting for the explanation of how Amy was gay bashing…”

            My first guess would be that it is this post being referred to: http://open.salon.com/blog/amytuteurmd/2009/02/23/are_fathers_optional

            In this article and comments Dr. Amy makes the argument that every child has a right to be raised by a mother and a father, and to deliberately deprive a child of a mother and a father is selfish and self-indulgent.

            Two same-sex parents don’t count – when a commenter said:
            “You’re saying that gay men who conceive children through surrogacy and raise them without mothers are bad parents? You’re saying lesbians who raise children conceived via sperm donors are bad parents?”
            Dr. Amy responded with:
            “I’m afraid so. There’s a difference between what adults want and what children need, and children’s needs trump adults’ wants.”

            This is definitely one topic on which I don’t think I will ever agree with Dr. Amy, and I can see how some would consider it “gay-bashing”, to an extent.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Renew licenses? My drivers license.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Dr Amy could still attend OB/GYN grand rounds and keep up to date.

          • amazonmom

            Hmm, let me look at the Washington State Board of Nursing license verification site. Looky here, an active RN license! I guess I’ve only been doing it for about 10 years so maybe in 6 more I will become a member of the NICU boob police. God I hope not. All those letters from parents I get about how grateful they were for my support and help in breastfeeding might stop coming. I will try and move heaven and earth to help a woman breastfeed but I don’t have to stoop to your level to do it. I found Dr Amy’s site after deciding lactivism was helping nobody, and was relieved to find someone that agreed with me. The science to back all of it up really helped too.

          • Sarah, PharmD

            Dr. Amy is a quake? Where does she measure on the Richter scale? I live along a major fault line. Is it too dangerous for me to keep reading Dr. Amy? Please answer quickly. Thanks.

          • rh1985

            is that like a sharknado? 😉

          • WHEN did she bash gay parenting?

          • Poogles

            “WHEN did she bash gay parenting?…”

            As I posted above: http://open.salon.com/blog/amytuteurmd/2009/02/23/are_fathers_optional

            When a commenter said:
            “You’re saying that gay men who conceive children through surrogacy and raise them without mothers are bad parents? You’re saying lesbians who raise children conceived via sperm donors are bad parents?”
            Dr. Amy responded with:
            “I’m afraid so. There’s a difference between what adults want and what children need, and children’s needs trump adults’ wants.”

            This is definitely one topic on which I don’t think I will ever agree with Dr. Amy, and it seems to clearly bash gay parents, not to mention any person who willingly and knowingly becomes a single parent by choice – all “bad” parents according to Dr. Amy, it seems.

          • An Actual Attorney

            “Its the same god, sweetheart. The Old Testament is the Torah. It matters because it shows her religious bigotry that was shown when she smashed gay parenting. My point was that if she’s a religious theist then surely she’s support “god’s work”. “God” made a woman’s breasts to give biologically perfect milk, and her vagina to open and deliver newborns. Why would she object to that and call in silly, when it was “god’s” will in the first place?”

            Wow! You’re a Talmudic scholar too!!

          • rh1985

            The WHO and other organizations do not DEMAND women breastfeed, they RECOMMEND that in general, women breastfeed. There are always going to be reasons why breastfeeding is not best for a particular mother and/or baby.

          • Sue

            Wow – this QB person works in a hospital (if she isn’t lying)? Scary.

            ”QB” appears to be a poster-child for not-very-bright, insightless ideologues.

          • Lizzie Dee

            Can I just deal with two of your logical fallacies in (2)? Others are better qualified to take on the rest.

            “You have to have a *license to be a *doctor.”

            A fairly lengthy education qualifies you as a doctor. You need a licence to practice as one, not to BE one. Most people with that kind of education are rather more likely than you are to know what they are talking about, and tend to remain up to date even when not practising.

            “Pervert by definition,
            means someone who obscures or leads away from what is natural.”

            No it doesn’t. It seems a bit like English may be your second language, so maybe you could be forgiven for not understanding the difference between “Pervert:verb” and “Pervert:noun” The first is much milder, and can mean to lead astray. The second, which is the way you used it, is rather narrowly restricted to sexual perversion. The English language is funny that way – fine shades of meaning which shift with time, not always easy to use precisely, and this can lead to rather comic misuse.

          • GuestB

            I love your “darlings” and “sweeties”. I hope it makes you feel good about yourself to speak to people that way.
            In other news, that post gave me a good chuckle.

          • BeatlesFan

            Aw, you think I’m a darling? Well thank you!

          • MichelleJo

            If you know the word Torah, presumably you know the work megilla, and that’s what you just wrote. Bet most of the readers stopped about a third of the way through. Don’t you know the saying that the more you write the less people read?

            And please, give me a clue where you live. I want to make sure to keep right out of the way. Being coerced doesn’t sit well with me.

          • An Actual Attorney

            The word I thought of was meshuganah.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “What’s found in formula is not nearly the superior nutritional standard as it is with a mother’s bosom”
            This made me smile. I think I’m going to memorize this line and use it when I dress up as a lactivist for Halloween.

          • Tim

            Don’t forget the part about how formula contains indigestible material (implying that breastmilk doesn’t) – You heard it here folks, exclusively breastfed babies DON’T POOP. If that’s not enough to convert everyone, I don’t know what is.

          • Clarissa Darling

            If that were true, I’d be exclusively breastfeeding till potty training for sure!

          • AmyP

            When my current baby was just eating breastmilk (and was out of the newborn phase), she would produce a dirty diaper about once or twice a week (but a HUGE one). It was freaky, but kind of convenient. It was like she was vaporizing the milk she was eating. Now that she’s on solids and has one or two dirty diapers every day, I miss it.

          • I almost wanted to steal this costume idea, and then I realized how many of my friends it would legitimately hurt… parody or not.

          • auntbea

            I think it is important that you pronounce it “BaZOOMS”

          • Meerkat

            What would your costume look like?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Well long flowing hair, a flower wreath, an organic hemp dress with the top pulled down around my waist and my breasts proudly bared for all to see. I shall sit on the ground in various places (absolutely randomly of course). Probably I will sit in the middle of the road, or perhaps on the front stoops of homes so that all the children who come to Trick-or-Treat shall have to walk around me. Since I no longer have a baby, the role of the breastfeeding babe will be played by a doll I shall attach to one breast (or perhaps one of my friends will lend me a real babe?!!). And since the best lactivists tandem nurse I am already rehearsing my daughter for the role of the older nursling. I am spending an hour each night training her to “relactate” on me. So far she mainly cries, but I am sure those are tears of joy at finally healing the wounds of her weaning (if I had only known then what I know now, I never would have let her wean in the first place). Both shall wear matching real faux flower wreathes like mine.

          • Mom of 2

            This has to be satire, it just has to be…

          • Box of Salt

            I doubt it. QB also bashing Dr Amy on the Portrait of a Birth Activist comments.

          • Box of Salt

            Ooops ^is between QB and also.

          • I think they recently banned BPA in formula containers if that makes you feel better.

          • tim

            It doesn’t matter because the companies voluntarily stopped using it before that anyway, because they knew it was bad.

          • suchende

            Sometimes I have the energy to explain in detail how foolish people are making themselves look. Sometimes I only have the energy to be concise: my god, you look like an idiot by this post. If you’re not an idiot, I hope no one you know in real life knows what screen name you post under.

          • Kalacirya

            The best part with someone like this, is that they’re so smug and truly believe that they are really astute and well informed.

          • suchende

            Who wouldn’t be proud of their Google PhD?

          • Kalacirya

            I think I’ve won some kind of bingo here.

          • Bombshellrisa

            We have to make a lactavist bingo card in addition to the home birth one

          • amazonmom

            You lost me at “indigestible” and “pervert”

          • AllieFoyle

            pro-pervert! ha!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            People
            Against
            Goodness
            And
            Normalcy

            PAGAN

            “…and this is the pit we had to dive into to save the virgin who was being eaten by the giant snake…”

          • Bombshellrisa

            Personally I like the “read and sing to your kids” one!

          • Kalacirya

            Well many of those things are already being done to limited success. For example, smoking rates are way down, but not really among the poor. And some don’t really lie under the scope of the health department.

          • “Here’s what an asthma controller is for-”

            My 2 year old has asthma (or whatever it is when they’re too young to call it asthma). That statement just made me all kinds of sad.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yeah, I used to waste a lot of time trying to explain the difference between the rescue inhaler and the controller and how important it was not to over-rely on the albuterol and reducing chronic inflammation , and don’t expect to feel any “rush” from the controller blah blah blah. Still nobody of poor SES ever took the controller. It’s a huge problem. But I have some success now. Whenever a child is on a controller I do my very best to convince them to let the school nurse give it. That way I know they get it at least twice a day 5 days per week. And I describe the controller as “The inhaler that helps the lungs grow” and tell them that if they take it they have a chance of growing out of their asthma (because there is evidence that long term uncontrolled bronchoconstriction can lead to permanent remodeling of the airways). Seems to be helping. But I still wish they would allow the method of albuterol inhalers/steroids combined. More use of rescue=more steroid also. The few studies that have looked at this show it works.

        • Clarissa Darling

          “Breastfeeding is especially appealing because it isn’t very expensive, so any gain that they could get from it would likely be cost effective in a field really straining for funding. So they get really excited about breastfeeding and I think the excitement predates the substantial evidence. ”

          My stars, do you mean that evil corporations who sell products I don’t like aren’t the only organizations to be motivated by money?! My worldview as been shattered……..

          • rh1985

            I personally think the “baby friendly” mandatory rooming in has been accepted by some hospitals because of money – cheaper not to run the nursery. I think it’s BS personally. I hope my hospital keeps their nursery and never goes “baby friendly.”

          • Bombshellrisa

            If you google “baby friendly hospital” there is a link to a list of hospitals that are “baby friendly”. Although rooming in seems to be the norm in hospitals now.

          • amazonmom

            It is bad of me to want RCS so I can have my mom come to the hospital at night and take care of the baby while hubby and I get some rest? Sounds baby and family friendly to me!

          • Bombshellrisa

            Family friendly should be what is important. Where is the mom friendly part in a baby friendly hospital.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I think there is a very, very strong argument that “mom friendly” (as well as “family friendly” IS inherently baby friendly as well.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Yeah, what is that saying? “If Mom ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy”!

          • rh1985

            It’s not a baby friendly hospital now. Hopefully it still isn’t in February and they don’t do away with the nursery.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And as I said, there is NO justification for calling rooming in “baby friendly.” No one has ever provided any explanation of how having the baby sleep in the nursery is baby unfriendly.

            Of course, if the PARENTS want the baby to room in, then they can, but don’t mistake that as being better for the baby.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I personally think the “baby friendly” mandatory rooming in has been accepted by some hospitals because of money

            Of course it has, because there is absolutely no other explanation for why rooming in is “baby friendly.” How is it better for a baby to be sleeping in the same room as the mother? Why does it matter where a baby is sleeping?

            Makes no sense at all in terms of benefiting the baby. Makes a ton of sense as a way to cut nursery costs.

          • amazonmom

            I remember my daughter screaming for hours on end at the hospital. To give my hubby and I a break the on call anesthesiologist was holding her and walking the hall with her while we passed out for a while. Baby friendly isn’t as awesome as it sounds when that means there is little or no help caring for your infant.

          • rh1985

            Well the poor baby will get nasty formula because if the mother sends the baby to the nursery she will agree to let the nurses feed the baby nasty formula so she can sleep.

            Of course, they ignore the possible risks to the baby of being cared for by a mother who had a complicated or simply long and exhausting birth, who is too tired to care for a baby alone, perhaps still on heavy pain meds from a c-section and unable to get out of bed….

          • suchende

            I sent my baby to the nursery without the nurses giving her formula. They brought her back to breastfeed.

          • rh1985

            I know they can do that. I’m just giving what’s the probable justification for forcing mothers to room in at so-called “baby friendly” hospitals.

            If a baby was formula fed and the mother really needed rest, were the nurses willing to feed those babies or did they have to go back to the mom for feeding too?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Well the poor baby will get nasty formula because if the mother sends
            the baby to the nursery she will agree to let the nurses feed the baby
            nasty formula so she can sleep.

            Of course they don’t.

          • notahomebirthlactivist

            Don’t most SIDS groups promote rooming in as protective against SIDS, along with breastfeeding, not smoking etc? Why wouldn’t it benefit a baby to be close to their mother when they are new? I don’t think it should be mandatory but I would think most babies would be better being cared for by their own parent one on one, instead of being shared amongst already busy nursing staff.
            Personally I couldnt stand the thought of my babies being away from me at birth, but they both had to at some point. Both hospitals had a small nursery, but it was only used when needed, when mum needed a rest etc, rather than it being a routine thing. Both were baby friendly.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Don’t most SIDS groups promote rooming in as protective against SIDS, along with breastfeeding, not smoking etc?

            We are talking about in the hospital. Nurses in the nursery aren’t smoking, and are far, far more attentive to SIDS than is an exhausted mother.

            Why wouldn’t it benefit a baby to be close to their mother when they are new?

            How does requiring a baby to sleep in the mother’s room in the hospital benefit the baby?

            I don’t think it should be mandatory

            But this is what is happening. Hospitals are requiring babies to sleep in the mother’s room under the guise of “baby friendly” but it’s not.

          • notahomebirthlactivist

            I think that (mandatory rooming in at all times) is only happening in some baby friendly hospitals. I have had children in two different baby friendly hospitals and both had nurseries and were happy to take the baby for a little while. They just dont automatically take babies to the nursery and only bring them to mum for feeds, which is what used to happen quite a lot. I suppose individual hospitals practice it differently. On night two with both my kids, they kept baby half of the night and also offered formula/breast milk top up in a syringe when they were extra grizzly.
            as for the question how does rooming in benefit the baby, I think it probably benefits the baby because the Mum is right there all the time to meet their needs, pick them up, pat them, feed them.. where as the nursery staff may be busy.. although I guess that isn’t as much of a problem if the nursery is not full and the staff aren’t too busy.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I think that (mandatory rooming in at all times) is only happening in some baby friendly hospitals.

            No one said otherwise. However, as has been noted, it is becoming more common than it was, under the pretense of being “baby friendly.” But it’s not, it’s about cutting costs.

            I think it probably benefits the baby because the Mum is right there all the time to meet their needs, pick them up, pat them, feed them..

            The only thing that the nursery can’t do there is feed them, but that’s as hard as taking them down the hallway.

            If the nursery staff are too busy to take care of the babies, then they are understaffed.

            Moreover, we are talking about SLEEPING babies. They don’t have any needs if they are sleeping. If they wake up and have needs, then bring them to the parents. The extra minute it takes to get there to eat doesn’t hurt anything.

          • notahomebirthlactivist

            Oh I completely agree. I dont think the baby friendly initiative has been put into practice very well in some places.. clearly. I like the suggestion I have seen on here that hospitals should adopt a family friendly initiative.. I am only arguing that rooming in can have some benefits and isnt a totally useless practice. I certainly dont think NOT rooming in is harmful, or should be BANNED which seems to be happening. I agree, rooming in can be allowed and even encouraged, but the offer to use the nursery and get some rest should also be a priority.. sleep deprivation and recovery after childbirth are a bad combo.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            . I am only arguing that rooming in can have some benefits

            I have yet to see you mention any actual benefits of having the baby sleep in the mother’s room as opposed to in the nursery though. Everything that has been suggested doesn’t hold up. SIDS? You have nurses in the nursery, so you aren’t leaving the baby alone. “Patting their back”? Why can’t a nurse do that if it is needed?

            The only difference is that, if the baby needs to eat, it will take a minute for the nurse to cart them down to mom’s room so she can feed. Similarly if the baby wakes up unhappy (i.e. screaming) and needs soothing, it takes a minute to get to mom, instead of 5 seconds.

            Are these really problems that need to be solved? Are they really baby unfriendly?

          • AllieFoyle

            Sure, rooming in has some advantages over forced nursery time, but this is becoming another case of the pendulum swinging too far. After I had my last child–at a rooming-in hospital–my husband had to leave to be with our older child. He knew that I hadn’t slept at all for days, and was exhausted and upset from the delivery. He asked the nurses to take the baby for a bit so that I could rest. They were unwilling to do that, so I spent the night in a single hospital bed, exhausted, sleep-deprived, holding my baby and hoping I didn’t drop him on the floor. Every time I put him in the bassinet he screamed. The only thing that would soothe him was nursing. I was sent home the next day with a serious sleep-debt and bleeding nipples. Not exactly the best set-up for postpartum success.

            Why does everything to do with childbirth and breastfeeding have to be this all or nothing dogmatic set of prescriptions and ideals? Why can’t people simply be sensible and tailor care and recommendations to the best interests of the individuals involved?

          • KarenJJ

            “Why can’t people simply be sensible and tailor care and recommendations to the best interests of the individuals involved?”

            Hell no. That would mean respecting women’s autonomy, individualism and intelligence.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Sure, rooming in has some advantages over forced nursery time,

            But who has ever said anything about “forced nursery time”?

            I realize that forced nursery time USED to be the norm, but how common is that now? Aside from perhaps medical exams.

            ISTR seeing “baby friendly” guidelines that recommended “allowing” rooming in, which makes sense. How that has turned into “requiring” it is beyond me.

          • AllieFoyle

            Well, the idea is that rooming-in was a sort of backlash against traditional policies where babies were routinely kept in the nursery. I have no idea how common policies like that are anymore, though I suspect not very. The bothersome thing is the way it’s gone from an optional thing to something that’s seen as superior and therefore forced on everyone, no matter how inappropriate to the circumstances.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Exactly. As I noted, “rooming in allowed” is absolutely a fine idea. “Rooming in required” is baseless.

          • MichelleJo

            In the hospital I gave birth in Jerusalem, babies were not allowed in the rooms between 12 and 6 am, to allow at least minimal sleep. You could state your preference about how you wanted your baby fed at night – nurse giving formula or your pumped milk, or being quietly woken up to go to the nursery and feed your baby in the lounge over there. Even within this option, there was a choice of being woken up at 3am or when the baby cried. It gave mom’s a chance to sleep if it isn’t their baby making the noise. I really don’t see how anyone can object to such a policy.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Billfold Friendly Hospitals
            (the billfold of the hospital)

          • amazonmom

            Yup! My hospital dumps you out at 24 hours for a vaginal birth and 48 for a C/S. no matter what. I was discharged at 830 pm with no pain medications and when I asked for help finding an all night pharmacy I was told it was my problem. I was also told to walk myself out no wheelchair no nothing. Baby Friendly can kiss my butt.

          • MichelleJo

            Agreed. I spent the entire night after my baby was born at midnight in a “baby friendly hospital” awake and rocking my baby’s crib. It took me until six in the morning to realize that my baby was sleeping peacefully, and it was the baby of the lady in the next bed who had been crying on and off the whole night. Honestly, how was I expected to recognize my baby’s cry if I’d never heard it? I’m not a mother who “knows instinctively” what her baby sounds or looks like. I was straight out of there. After all there were four of us in the room and the chances of them all being quiet was nil.

            Baby friendly hospitals are only possible if the mother and baby have their own private room. Other wise it’s just a ‘never sleep hospital’.

          • Jessica

            I gave birth at a BFHI hospital with private rooms and mandatory rooming-in. I barely slept. My husband barely slept, either. It’s the main reason we pushed so hard for a discharge at 24 hours post-birth.

          • Christina Maxwell

            Oh yes, so much this! I had that experience 23 years ago with my youngest and it was a total nightmare. No sleep for anybody and the nurses wouldn’t help at all. Just to complicate matters I spent the one night I was in there sitting with and trying to comfort a very young first time mother whose baby was dying in the NICU. She had been given a private room but was then ignored by the nurses. I had heard her crying…. The three other women in my room took it in turns to watch my baby, as well as their own. The nurses, when they did appear told me off for ignoring my baby, told the grieving mother off for making too much ‘fuss’ and told the other women in my room off for going along with it. It was like an infinitely worse version of being at boarding school. I have never been so angry in my life.

          • Kalacirya

            When I’m done standing naked in front of the Monsanto HQ eating my organic quinoa, I’ll have to take the show, I mean activist demonstration, on the road to the state health departments too.

          • Jennifer2

            Note to self: leave early for work tomorrow, stop at Monsanto on the way, bring quinoa and bail money. Also, hire photographer.

        • ratiomom

          Breastfeeding is the most expensive feeding choice for poorwomen. The monthly cost is equal to the income they would have earned if they’d have formula fed and worked. I can’t think of many things that would be more expensive per liter. Liquid gold indeed.
          And please don’t tell me they should pump at work. That’s just not happening in that type of workplace.

          • Kalacirya

            I’m not sure why you’d think I’d be pushing breastfeeding on poor women, because I’m not. I’m totally indifferent as to whether people breastfeed or not. I’m saying as someone who works in public health, that it seems to be a difficult position to be working in the MCH area. There are a lot of pressures coming from different directions directing you what to do and what you can get money to do. It’s not surprising to me that they focus so heavily on breastfeeding, which is something reasonable simple that you can encourage people to do on the individual level even though the gains are small. This is versus attempting to affect change on the systemic issues that are the real issues at hand. Another example would be the attempted soda ban in NYC, restricting soda sizes while eating out is a band-aid on a larger problem, but it’s easier for NYC to try to ban large sized sugary drinks than it is for them to attempt to influence national-level agriculture subsidies or generational poverty, or any of the other bigger issues that relate to childhood obesity and the associated consumption of sugary beverages. I’m skeptical that such a ban would move the population numbers anywhere, just as I am with breastfeeding, but I can see why they went there.

          • Kalacirya

            Also let me say that when I said expensive, I mean expensive for the government, not for the individual. Promoting breastfeeding and tweaking WIC packages is way cheaper for the government (where politicians are looking for cost cutting everywhere) than meatier alternatives.

          • notahomebirthlactivist

            Unless you are in Australia or some other places.. where after you have a baby you receive significant financial support from the govt. when you have a new baby, so therefore, its rare for anyone to return to work within 6 or 8 or 12 weeks etc. I work in community services and I assure you that the cost of formula is a real issue for poor women here who would not be returning to work any time soon anyway. Some mothers water formula down right from the very beginning to make it last longer, and there are times when mothers run out and will just use regular cows milk or juice on very young infants. We do promote breastfeeding as the cheaper option, because if it goes smoothly and you don’t have to buy pumps or medications etc, it really is.

  • This pediatric endocrinologist says formula is causing health problems in infants (mainly obesity), and later children.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    I’m not really qualified to prove or disprove what he says, I’m just throwing it out there. I wish I could reccommend a specific point in the talk but the information is scattered throughout the lecture.

    I am not trying to say that formula is poison or that no one should use it, but I thought I would add this to the discussion because I just happened to watch this video yesterday and it was relevant.

    • Becky05

      Formula has the same amount of sugar as breastmilk. It is actually less sweet.

      • you could not have possibly watched the lecture in this amount of time. Breastmilk has lactose, rather than fructose. He explains why this is an important distinction in the biochemical portion of the lecture.

        • Mariana Baca

          Er… most formula is cows milk based, which absolutely has lactose as its major carbohydrate component. That is why there is such a thing as special “Lactose free” formula.

          • There isn’t a way to predict if a child will tolerate the cows milk formula or not. If the link dr lustig says exists is there then it is fair to let people know before deciding to formula feed. Saying that there is no difference between breastfeeding and formula might make people feel good but I thought skeptics were about stating things accurately rather than placating anyone.

            Saying that formula may lead to certain problems doesn’t mean that people should judge folks who use it. Generally people are doing what is best for their baby and the mother is almost always the best judge of that.

          • Mariana Baca

            I was objecting the the statement “rather than” — most formula has lactose, not fructose. I don’t even think non-lactose formula has fructose for that matter. Yes, some kids are allergic and need alternate formulas. Allergic kids sometimes cannot tolerate breastmilk, either, unless on a severe elimination diet. Either way, you can’t argue sugar is the problem if both substances usually contain the same sugar in the majority of cases.

          • Wren

            Granted this was 34 years ago now, but my mother was advised, after trying an elimination diet and by a doctor who was very pro-breastfeeding that she needed to try formula because my sister wasn’t tolerating breast milk. Don’t know the details beyond that, except that it worked.

          • amazonmom

            My husband and his brother were both on soy formula about 40 years ago. Mom in law says she did an elimination diet but eventually had to quit breastfeeding. My daughter had a milk protein allergy so I’m wondering if that’s what they had as well.

          • Becky05

            Most formulas have no sucrose (which breaks down into fructose) at all. A very few, like the soy Similac, do, but even most lactose free formulas don’t. They mostly contain corn syrup solids, which are actually less sweet than lactose.

          • Bomb

            I found the corn formulas so bitter and horrible, but it was the only thing I could feed my baby after she had salmonella. I couldn’t even breastfeed or she had explosive diarrhea.

          • realityycheque

            Holding a tin of liquid McDonalds in my hand right now….. the entire sugar content reads:

            0g sucrose
            4.5g lactose
            1.9g dextrose.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            dextrose is glucose in case anyone didn’t know

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Um, no, it isn’t. Dextrose is very, very, very different from glucose. Yes, it is a polymer of glucose, but polymers are not the same as the monomer. PVC is not vinyl chloride, thankfully, polystyrene is not styrene, and teflon is not tetrafluoroethylene, etc.

            Dextrose can be converted to glucose under the right conditions, but those are generally not found in the digestive track. Consequently, dextrose is generally used as filler, because it is water soluble, and passes pretty much right through the body. Completely unlike glucose.

            If anything, dextrose is much more like cellulose, although without the stringy fibrous texture.

            Similarly, sucrose is NOT “fructose and glucose,” it is a single entitiy, a disaccharide that is a combination of those two. The difference is that, unlike dextrose, sucrose IS hydrolyzed to glucose and fructose under physiological conditions.

            It is extremely misleading to equate polymers with their monomers. Even saying they are “effectively” that depends on the polymers susceptibility toward degradation. Some polymers can easily be broken up into their monomeric components. Others can’t. And if you can’t break it into the monomer, they aren’t going to act the same way.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Sorry Bofa I have to disagree with you here. Dextrose is just another name for the monomer D-glucose. It is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Dextrose is an old name that is associated with the way glucose refracts light in fluid. The only reason they label things with dextrose instead of glucose is because it is believed to be better received.

            http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/dextrose

          • Box of Salt

            Sullivan the Poop: dextrose dexter duh! Talk about misleading!

            I think Bofa is thinking of a similarly named different polymer used as filler, but the actual name also is escaping me at the moment.

          • Box of Salt

            By different polymer I mean not based on alpha D-glucose (starch)

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Oh, dextrin is a type of filler composed of polymers of d-glucose made from starch.

          • realityycheque

            “Saying that there is no difference between breastfeeding and formula
            might make people feel good but I thought skeptics were about stating
            things accurately rather than placating anyone.”

            I haven’t seen anyone on this blog trying to make that claim at all, rather I have seen repeated acknowledgements of the minor benefits, but also recognition of the fact that all other things considered, formula MAY actually come out being a better, healthier choice for mother and baby in many (not all) situations. It is a highly individualised choice and ‘breast is best’ may not be the case for every mother and child.

            No one here, and I mean NO ONE is trying to claim that there is no difference between formula and breastmilk, rather that they may both have their unique benefits to individual situations and that formula isn’t the rat poison so many lactivists make it out to be.

          • Sue

            “Shameon”” – nobody is saying that formula is identical to breast milk.

            But the evidence says this:
            – IN developed societies, with clean water, the health outcomes for infants are not much different, just on the basis of the type of milk ingested.
            – All other things being equal (thanks Bofa), babies who are fed exclusively breast milk have a measurable but relatively small decrease in hospitalisations for respiratory and gastro infections in the first year of life. This is not exclusive, though, and is strongly influenced by exposure (kids with older sibs or child care exposure get more infections, and breast feeding doesn’t prevent them).
            – There is only weak evidence associated with the other purported benefits, and they are not long-lasting.

            So, babies who are breast-fed but go to childcare and have smoking parents are likely to get more infections than formula-fed babies who have no exposure outside home and whose parents don’t smoke. Get how that works?

            IF you want to contest any of those statements, please present some real evidence (hint: not a YouTube, news item or essay from a lactivist site).

          • araikwao

            I’ve watched the video, and I was horrified! There is a pretty solid refutation out there if you Google it, and Dr Lustig even showed up in the comments, but didn’t manage to defend his position that well. I think being sensible about food is still, well, sensible.
            Re bottle-feeding and obesity, there are higher rates amongst kids who were bottle-fed with EBM,too, IIRC. So it’s definitely not as clear-cut as formula = poison. Maybe the

        • EllenL

          People don’t have to watch an hour and a half video in order to have an opinion of the issue of breast feeding and obesity. They can cite other opinions and other studies if they want to.

          If you think the video is important, why don’t you summarize its points, instead of chiding people for not spending 1.5 hours watching it?

          • Mariana Baca

            1.5 hours?! Nobody cares that much about a discussion on a blog. tl;dw, indeed.

          • I was chiding people for making comments critical *of the information in the video*. There is a difference.

          • auntbea

            You asked people to watch the video and comment, and then people commented, but no one was actually criticizing the video. They were going on what you said the video contained.

        • LibrarianSarah

          How about instead of all of us spending 1.5 hours of time many of us don’t have on watching a video that some of us may not be able two watch (I don’t see a captions option) you instead tell us who is in the video and what parts of it you found compelling.

          This is like posting a bunch links and just telling us “read these” but even more inconvenient. The fact that this is 4 years out of date and sponsored by a quackademic research center does not give me much incentive to sit through it.

        • Becky05

          I’ve watched the lecture before. Most formula in fact has lactose. Formula with sucrose is very much in the minority.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Pablo’s First Law strikes again!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Apparently his information is out-of-date, right? Because results of the PROBIT study, which is the best study we have, were just posted here yesterday, and they do not support the claim that formula causes obesity.

      • Again, you could not have watched the lecture in that time. It has citations if you want to compare the information to the study you referenced. It might be that conflicting information exists. He is a childhood obesity expert and this is what he had to say on the matter.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I don’t need to watch the lecture. If he claims that formula feeding causes obesity (as YOU say he does), then his information is out of date with the latest scientific research.

          It could be that it is an old video, and the PROBIT study had not been released yet when he made it (the study is very recent).

          • GuestB

            The video was uploaded in 2009, so it is at least that old.
            It is also presented by the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Stopped the video right there. Calling Orac!

          • KarenJJ

            That fructose comment was a waving red flag right there…

          • Sue

            Eeeekkkk! Fructose is POISON, doncha know?

            (So says an ex-lawyer who sold a lot of books).

          • he said it about formulas that contain fructose. Not all of them do. So I am not sure that it would show up on the study you referenced.

            The rabid need to denounce anything NCB people say is seriously ridiculous here. No one is wrong 100% of the time.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The rabid need to denounce anything NCB people say is seriously ridiculous here.

            I never said anything about NCB. In fact, I had no idea it had anything to do with NCB. I said any claims about formula causing obesity are inconsistent with the best scientific literature.

          • auntbea

            No, we only have a rabid need to denounce anything they say that is blatantly untrue.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            he said it about formulas that contain fructose. Not all of them do. So I am not sure that it would show up on the study you referenced.

            If he is correct, there is an interesting conclusion.

            Let’s go through the steps
            1) Overall, the use of formula is not associated with an increase in obesity
            2) Only fructose containing formulas cause obesity
            3) Therefore, NON-fructose containing formulas must actually DECREASE obesity

            So I guess non-fructose containing formulas are better than breastfeeding?

            Because that is implicit in your comment

  • Meerkat

    I have been thinking about this since I started my son on solids. I am not a scientist, so correct me if my very unscientific musings are wrong. I was really surprised to find out that the ideal first foods could be polar opposites in different countries. For example, buckwheat kasha is considered an ideal first food in Russia, but an allergen in Japan. Then I read this article http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    I think it makes a lot of sense in terms of tolerance of foods that baby’s ancestors are accustomed to eating. It might also make sense that a formula fed baby’s gut adapts to formula and learns to work with it as it would with breast milk, compensating for formula’s possible shortcomings in some other ways?
    I don’t agree with everything in this article, but the research is very interesting and might make more improved formula in the future.
    At any rate I am glad we have the technology that allows us to feed babies safely without breastmilk.

  • AmyP

    Does this suggest that breastfeeding initiation is pretty much as high as it can go in the US?

  • Monica

    I challenge anyone to walk into any classroom in America and pick out which children were breastfed and which ones were formula fed. Then tell me that the benefits of breastfeeding continue beyond breastfeeding.

    • fiftyfifty1

      That’s easy: Henry, River, and Marit were breastfed. Jaden, Crystal and Malik were not.

      • Karen in SC

        Hey, I’m not crunchy but I named my son Henry in the early 90’s after his great-grandfather. It has been interesting to see the name rise in popularity recently.

        • LibrarianSarah

          I think she was trying to say that the white students were more likely to be breastfed. Otherwise it would be something like Sunshine, Phoenix and Moonbeam were breastfed other were not.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Aiden, Ayden, Brayden, Cayden, Caitlyn, and Hayden were breastfed, while Jayden, Kayden, Kaitlyn, Leyton, Peyton, and Zayden were not. Sayten was breastfed, supplemented by the souls of the damned.

          • yentavegan

            sayten! that is too funny!

          • fiftyfifty1

            No, Aidan is breastfed while Ayden is formula fed. Caitlin is breastfed, Katelyn gets formula. Sayten and Saten both get the homemade liver-based formula.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No, Aidan is breastfed while Ayden is formula fed. Caitlin is breastfed, Katelyn gets formula.

            Yeah, that was too much work. I always do my Aiden list alphabetically so that I don’t forget anyone.

          • Kalacirya

            I’m depressed there was no Seitan joke in there.

          • yentavegan

            I am a bad vegan, I missed that one.

          • Older Mom

            For those who have celiac disease, Seitan is Satan.

          • T.

            Best.Comment.Ever. Bofa, I laughed at Sayten.

          • Jen

            I think you won the internet today. I made the mistake of reading this comment on my phone, while at a conference on mindfulness meditation. I sat there trying to laugh silently, which morphed into me shaking and cry-laughing.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I was trying to say white and upper class actually. Breastfeeding tracks with both of those as well as with crunchy. Malik was actually a poor choice on my part for an African American name because it is a name more associated with upper class African Americans and that fact dilutes its power to predict “formula fed”. Jaden and Crystal are both lower class names whether white or black. River is firmly in crunchy territory.
            There is a HUGE class division regarding breastfeeding in the United States, although everybody likes to pretend there isn’t.

          • Older Mom

            Wow, that’s a pretty judgy assessment of names. The Malik I know is African-American but definitely not “upper class”, though admittedly not inner-city poor either. The Henry I know is white, working class to barely middle class.

            A lot of names are simply family names, so while they may predict your ethnicity, they don’t predict your social class any more than your ethnicity predicts your social class.

            Yes, I realize that your ethnicity shifts the odds that you’re in a given social class, but beyond that, you can’t really say that Henry is a rich white name or Malik is a rich black name. I guess not unless you simultaneously assume that there is no social mobility in this country. Granted, there is less class mobility than more people think, but still.

            It would be really helpful if we could keep the discussion focused on the real and imagined benefits of breastfeeding and not slamming people for what they choose to name their children, which really nobody else’s business.

          • Kalacirya

            Honestly when I read it, the point went totally over my head. A lot of people in my mother’s family are named Henry, and then Malik to me is predominantly a middle eastern name, and then the only Jaden I’ve ever heard of is Will Smith’s son. So I had no idea what was going on until it was explained afterward.

          • Older Mom

            I had the same reaction. I knew there was some sort of judgement being attached to the names, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I had NO IDEA that one would associate a simple name like Henry or Malik with race and class.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yep, huge class and ethnicity clues there. Does one find exceptions occasionally? Sure. My own son has a name that reads very much “Old Jewish Man” (and not in a stylish way like Max or Sam either… think “Seymour”) even though he is neither Jewish nor old. People comment on it a lot, sometimes specifically saying “He doesn’t look at all what I expected from his name”. I think it’s funny. My sister named her son a name that skews somewhat African American despite being white. Her African American patients comment on it.

          • Dr Kitty

            My Jewish Grandfather was Fred, my Irish Grandfather was Isaac.
            Fun fact.

            When it comes to names in Ireland, there has been a recent fashion for Irish spellings and more obscure names.
            Aodhan, Odhran, Roise, Caoimhghin, Aoibheann, Caoilainn etc.
            It is getting interesting trying to pronounce the names at the baby clinics in West Belfast.

          • BeatlesFan

            Those names just made my brain explode from trying to figure out how to pronounce them, and I have Greek in-laws. Yowza.

          • Dr Kitty

            Irish has a lot of silent letters.

            If you’re curious:

            Aodhan (Aiden, boy), Odhran (ORE-an, boy), Roise (ROSH-uh, girl), Caoimhghin (Kwee-vin, boy), Aoibheann (Ay-veen, girl),Caoilainn (Kay-lynn, girl).

            Expect to see them on name tags in your local mall in 15 years (Irish kids on J1 visas)

          • GuestB

            Caoimhghin is Kwee-vin? I would not have guessed that in a million years.

          • Sue

            And Niamh is “Neeve”

          • Dr Kitty

            In my head fiftyfifty1 your son is now Herschel (I’m sure he’s not, but I like the idea of a tiny Herschel confounding expectations).

          • MichelleJo

            “My own son has a name that reads very much “Old Jewish Man” (and not in a
            stylish way like Max or Sam either… think “Seymour”) even though he
            is neither Jewish nor old.”
            I think I like this comment. My Grandpa was called Max and was the nicest old Jewish gentleman you would wish to meet.

          • yentavegan

            can i guess? Is it sheldon?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Not judging, just commenting. I happen to like all 6 of the names I chose as examples, but there is no denying the class and race hints they give. Names track with social class and ethnicity. They just do. I do have a larger point although I realize I should have spelled it out much more clearly. My point is that class MATTERS when it comes to outcomes. Breastfed babies absolutely on average do better than formula-fed babies in this country. And everybody thinks it’s due to real differences between breast and bottle. BUT statistics will also show that Marits and Jaspers and Caitlins do better in school and are healthier than Mariahs and Jaydens and Katelyns. But do the first set of names CAUSE good health and the second set CAUSE bad health? Of course not. It’s just class.

          • Older Mom

            I agree 100% that class is a variable in breastfeeding rates and also in performance in school.

            But I still think it’s a big leap to say that a specific name implies a specific class. Sure, there might be a trend with names that are chosen just for that name’s sake, but with family names, not so much.

            When Henry is named after his grandfather, who was named after his father, etc…well, that doesn’t really tell us anything about the youngest Henry’s social class. And really, family names are still a big tradition in many ethnic groups and becoming more fashionable overall.

            In which case, a name might say a lot about the social class of a child’s grandparents or great-grandparents or even further back (depending on when the family name first became a family name), but then we’d need to look at what socioeconomic status that name implied back when the name was first given.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “When Henry is named after his grandfather, who was named after his father, etc…well, that doesn’t really tell us anything about the youngest Henry’s social class. And really, family names are still a big tradition in many ethnic groups and becoming more fashionable overall.”
            Actually a baby named Henry after a grandparent does tell us a lot about class. This “mining of the family tree” tradition is very white upper middle class. Often a great-grandparent name is chosen. On the other hand, the Jr. tradition (naming child after Dad) is rapidly dying among white upper class familes. It is still pretty common with African American families as well as Latino familes.
            You can read all about these trends on baby naming sites like the Baby Name Wizard.

          • Older Mom

            I am quite familiar with all of this. But as far as I can see it, there’s still a few glitches in assuming you can know the social class of someone’s parents by knowing their name.

            First, ethnic families, including Latinos and African-Americans (and many other groups, including the ethnic group I’m part of, which I don’t want to disclose for privacy reasons), DO have a tradition of family names. So if you name after dad, who was named after dad, who was named after dad, you still end up with the names from many generations ago still in use. And that tells us NOTHING about the social class of the immediate parents, since that name was a family name for a long time.

            In other words, inferring class from *family* name breaks down in ethnic groups where a family name tradition has been going on for many generations independent of class.

            In addition, some working class white familes still do honor family names of their grandparents. I see it all the time with the working class white kids I grew up with. Like the guy who grew up with a drunk, abusive, often out-of-work dad naming one of his kids after his grandmother. Or the former secretary (now SAHM) married to a fire-fighter naming one of her kids after a grandfather.

            So these inferences seem insulting to various ethnic groups who have for many generations honored those who came before them when naming their children–as well as white families of lower socioeconomic status who choose to honor beloved grandparents when naming their own children.

          • BeatlesFan

            Both of my kids are named after grandparents, in the Greek tradition- my son is named after my father-in-law, my daughter is named after my mother. My husband is Greek, I’m not- which means our son has a very Greek name while our daughter has a very American name. Should either of our children also adhere to tradition, it will be the same for their kids- a girl named after me with a boring American name, a boy named after my husband with a name that makes telemarketers cry.

          • Clarissa Darling

            “This “mining of the family tree” tradition is very white upper middle class. Often a great-grandparent name is chosen.” That’s interesting. We’re planning to name my son after my great grandfather but, I really had no idea that this was a current trend let alone one associated with any particular race/class! I’d like him to have his Dad’s name as a middle name but, that’s up to my husband.

          • Clarissa Darling

            Saying that a certain name is more common among those of a specific ethnic or racial group is a generalization but, not necessarily a judgment. It’s how that information is used that makes the difference. I have a white co worker with a Spanish sounding first name that somehow found herself on the mailing list for a free magazine targeted towards Latinas. If you are the publisher of this magazine it probably makes more sense from your perspective to send it to an Estella rather than oh I don’t know, a Margret. In my opinion, this is pretty benign and marketers use this kind of generalization all the time. On the other side, research suggests that often times resumes with white sounding names are looked at more seriously than those with black or ethnic sounding names. That’s definitely a very judgmental and bad type of generalization. Personally, I think fiftyfity1’s comment is neutral.

          • Names actually do trend based on all sorts of factors, including socioeconomic class and race.

      • Older Mom

        Strange…I know one Henry (formula-fed by his working mom) and one Malik (breastfed by his homebirthing, selective-vaxxing but otherwise entirely awesome SAHM).

      • yentavegan

        Depends on which part of the country the classroom is located.
        I challenge any one to walk into a frat house and pick out which beer guzzling, pot smoking porn watching student was breastfed.

        • Breastfed children don’t drink beer or watch porn!!!

          • yentavegan

            Right. They get high on unicorn glitter.

    • Anon

      One of my kids is tall and thin, one is short and heavy (they are only 2 and 3, but their percentiles are above and below avg). The short fat one was breastfed a year. The tall skinny one for 3 months.

  • Amy M

    I know a lot of the extreme NCB/Natural Living people think modern medicine is bad and pine for the good old days when everyone died of tuberculosis at age 40, but were all born successfully at home and breastfed with no problems. Unless of course, you died during the birth, or there was no breastmilk in which case you deserved your fate because you were clearly not meant to live. /sarcasm

    What I want to know is: Do those people truly NOT see the connection between increased lifespan, and improved quality of life and modern medicine? Do they honestly believe that back in [whatever time they idealize–100yrs ago, 1000yrs ago, 1000000yrs ago] people were healthier/better off? Are they aware of living conditions in developing nations?

    I guess an argument could be made for living without certain modern inventions, but I can’t imagine any parent anywhere who wouldn’t jump at the chance to get something (medicine, surgery, whatever) that would save the life of his/her child. I am not saying that everything that modern humans have come up is fabulous, but you know….

    • Kalacirya

      As an aside, one thing that I’m flabbergasted by, is why anti-establishment types walk out incidents that occurred decades ago as definitive proof that their beliefs are validated. Like the Tuskeegee syphilis experiment, or twlight sleep in labor, or thalidomide, or radical mastectomy. Meanwhile, these very examples are used to train people in these fields about what they should and shouldn’t be doing regarding human rights, general medical ethics, patient autonomy, pharmaceutical safety, and having evidence to base our practices upon. Our fields have advanced starkly in the last 50 years, attitudes in medicine, research, and their associated ethics have come reasonably far.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        As an aside, one thing that I’m flabbergasted by, is why anti-establishment types walk out incidents that occurred decades ago as definitive proof that their beliefs are validated.

        Because conspiracies are almost impossible to disprove. “There is no evidence for a conspiracy” turns into “That just means the conspiracy is doing it’s job”

        these very examples are used to train people in these fields about what they should and shouldn’t be doing regarding human rights, general medical ethics, patient autonomy, pharmaceutical safety, and having evidence to base our practices upon..

        As if they have the first clue about what professional training involves….

        • Kalacirya

          “As if they have the first clue about what professional training involves….”

          Most of them, probably not. But sadly not all.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      It’s mythology, that’s my best description of it.

      I’ve given this example before. Why the big kick on “traditional chinese medicine”? (TCM) It’s extremely popular in altie circles, but for no good reason. What is it about TCM that makes it appealing? Because it is an alternative to “western” medicine? In what way? To be an alternative, you’d maybe think it should work just as well, or something. Yet, in rural China in the 1920s, the time and place that you think would rely heaviest on TCM, the average lifespan was 25 for men, and 24 for women (death in childbirth being the biggest reason for the difference, of course). I gotta say, that’s not a ringing endorsement of the effectiveness of TCM. Why should we be striving for more of that type of approach?

      So if you ask, why is TCM so appealing, the answer is certainly not “it works so well…”

      It almost seems like a case of the myth of noble savage…

      • tim

        “It almost seems like a case of the myth of noble savage…”

        Spoiled white people with nothing better to do turn non-white people into something fetishistic and exotic, whether it’s native medicine, docile women, sex goddess women, savage powerful men, etc, etc. It’s nothing but puffed up racist nonsense

        • Kalacirya

          You forgot the Eat, Pray, Love method of appropriating culture and reducing non-white people to props in your story. It’s where you go to foreign countries to “find yourself” and learn wisdom from the locals about how to handle over-privileged life.

      • Burgundy

        My dad is a liver cancer specialist in Taiwan. TCM was one of the reason that liver cancer
        rate is so high there. A lot of people
        taking TCM supplements without realizing how these “nature remedies” were actually
        killing their liver.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Are you saying that Tong Ren is not a good source of magical cures?

          (I always associate Tong Ren with Taiwan. Don’t know why, and I could be wrong)

          • burgundy

            HAHA, Tong Ren is a very old woo group ;P

        • Older Mom

          How sad!

      • UNCDave

        I’m waiting for someone to rediscover TWM; Traditional Western Medicine. All you have to do is keep your humours balanced and a long healthy life will be yours!

        • Luba Petrusha

          And don’t forget regular bleeding by your barber, and arsenical medications.

        • tim

          Isn’t that what Chiropractic is? 🙂

          • Sue

            Yep – and homeopathy.

            In the rest of the world, human knowledge and technology grows and develops. In homeopathy, it stopped with some German dude back in the nineteenth century. Oh, but you can blog about it. On your smartphone. Or tablet.

    • ChrisKid

      It seems to be kind of a willful wall of nonrecognition. It works the same way as the belief that those people, in modern times, who die of disease, or have sick children, or can’t breastfeed, or have a surgical birth, are somehow at fault. If you do everything right that can’t happen to you. It’s superstitious nonsense, of course, but it’s tightly held by many people, because it gives them an illusion of control.
      Along with the naturalistic fallacy, where everything was wonderful and wholesome until technology screwed it up. Nature loves us all, don’t you know?

    • On the other hand, things being new/modern/technology do not render them superior. Black and white thinking is the culprit here, not which ‘side’ you are on.

      • Amy M

        Yes, I was getting to that, I got cut off by the IT guy delivering my new computer. (woot!) I’m not saying all new/modern things are superior, just that it is clear that modern medicine has extended human lifespan for those with access to it. Also, for people in the first world, life is a lot more comfortable as a result of modern inventions (medicine among them), and that we have more leisure time.

        Better health and more leisure time=art and culture. As the saying goes, life in the middle ages was “nasty, brutish and short”…I don’t really want to live like that. I’ll take my chances with type 2 diabetes, especially since we are learning all the time about ways to possibly prevent it by changing diet….we don’t have to throw out modern medicine and die by 40 to avoid T2D. We can use our human brains to solve the problems we created, we don’t have to just turn our backs on modern inventions just because they cause unintended side-effects.

  • Kalacirya

    Well the issue I have with this kind of graphing, is that I believe it to be mathematically misleading. I think all of us here are aware of the various confounders and other elements lying on the causal pathway to the outcomes. There’s a lot of noise and a more likely than not, very slight signal for breastfeeding if any significant signal at all. You might not see it in this type of chart, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

    I get why you posted it, because you’re seeking to make the point that if breastfeeding was as outrageously and momentously good as lactivists claim, then of course you’d be able to easily pick up the signal in the data, and it isn’t actually there. But at the same time, I think that’s an argument that goes above the heads of a lot of people.

    • suchende

      Well it didn’t go above my head. You can use this line of reasoning to convince at least everyone who understands it.

      • Kalacirya

        I never argued that it would go over the heads of the readers here. But if it goes over the heads of lactivists and those that would lean in that direction, it’s really becomes a masturbatory thing. Which is find if that’s what you want, but I’m personally not a fan of these types of charts, regardless of where they might pop up.

        • auntbea

          Really? I think it’s pretty straightforward. Anyone who is sophisticated enough to pick apart the graph based on confounders is probably sophisticated enough to realize that the effect of breastfeeding must be trivial in the scheme of things.

          • Kalacirya

            I guess I’ve not had a lot of positive experiences with random people reading graphs. And I’ve seen many people use graphs like the above to attempt to show causation, when at best you get some temporal association which could easily be unrelated.

            And ultimately, a breastfeeding signal could be reasonably strong, but it’s not going to outweigh the effects of increasing food stability or the advent of antibiotics. So I tend to be leery of trend graphs that cover multiple “eras”.

          • auntbea

            Oh, definitely, if I got a graph like this for peer-review, I would be…surprised. But for countering the claim that lack of breastfeeding is why we’re all now allergic/unhealthy/dying/stupid, it works pretty well.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Was infant mortality really 10% back in 1915?

    • Oiuy

      I thought it was higher. Ever go to an old cemetery? There are a lot of “Baby” headstones on the family plots.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yes but…be careful of confirmation bias. Easy to ignore those that aren’t there. Second, it is infant mortality, so that excludes toddlers who died from the measles, etc. Easy to see a 2 year old and include them into the little ones category.

        Also don’t discount family size. My folks were both from very large families. The only young person who died was an uncle who drown at the age of 13. That was more like the 20s so a little after this time, but that’s a lot of infants who lived (25 or so).

        • desiree

          It wouldn’t surprise me. My grandmother was one of 15, 10 of whom survived long enough to be considered her brothers and sisters. They were very, very poor, NYC tenement-dwellers.

        • T.

          My great-grandmother was a midwife. She had 15 siblings, of which 3 (she, one sister and one brother) survived to adulthood. She had 6 children, 2 of which died.

          It went by luck, really. Some family had not a death and somebody had 20 children none of which made to be an adult.

    • theadequatemother

      I have heard that 1/10 infants died before their first birthday from other sources too (okay “other sources” isn’t likely to satisfy you but its late and I’m tired!)

  • fiftyfifty1

    Wow, we currently have higher breastfeeding initiation rates than 100 years ago back before formula even existed. Yet “the problem” is those evil formula manufacturers and we must protest them? I don’t get it.

  • Older Mom

    I don’t have any graphs to back me up, but I will go out on a limb and posit one thing: What DOES matter is having adequate nutrition in the first year of life. This means not starving your baby in the name of exclusively breastfeeding or doing some sort of crazy make-your-own-infant-formula when your milk supply is insufficient or when you adopt a newborn.

    • Meerkat

      Agreed. An acquaintance of mine has a little boy who is the same age as my son, but is scary skinny and small. The mom told me that the pediatrician is trying to convince her to feed him more solids and supplement with formula ( the baby was 9 months at the time) but she was hesitant, because breast was best. Poor baby looked really really angry.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Why do people go to the doctor if all they want is the doctor to validate their decisions?

        • GuestB

          That right there just about sums it up.
          For me, the doctor patient relationship is not “he listens to me and my opinions, takes time to read over my internet research, and we make decisions regarding my health together”. It is “you are well trained in an area that I am not, and I want your expertise keeping me (or my children) alive and well”.
          That being said, if I have a condition that requires treatment, and there are two options that are equally efficacious, and my doctor wants my input of which one I prefer, that type of conversation is fine with me. But none of this “I know you said I have a condition that only one treatment will cure, but I read online that eating extra yogurt will cure me so I will do that instead” crap.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And, to be fair, our pede is pretty easy going about most things (mainly because they are small – remember Dr Amy’s guide to parenting: 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff, 2) Most of it is small stuff). Sure, he gives us recommendations on the small things, too, but when things are important, he lets us know.

        • Courtney84

          This is how my husband finally convinced my pregnant self to stop eating lunch meat…
          I wouldn’t ignore my OB about anything else, so I guess I ought to heed the advice in the Listeria hand out in my pregnancy folder… Sigh

        • Kalacirya

          I have decent health insurance for a change, and I can’t imagine going in and paying a copay just to hear my opinions given back to me. I could go to Reddit for that for free.

        • Meerkat

          I think she just goes for normal pediatrician check ups. She doesn’t believe there is anything seriously wrong with his weight.