The deadly breastfeeding sophistry of Dr. Jack Newman

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The Fed Is Best Foundation has accomplished so much in such a short time that professional lactivists, who ignored just about everyone and everything that did not support their preferred narrative, have been forced to take it into account.

The most prominent example to date has been Dr. Alison Stuebe of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Dr. Stuebe has publicly acknowledged that for years she promoted a lactivist lie:

There is no benefit of breastmilk that is worth allowing your new baby’s brain to bathe in a neurotoxin.

Six years ago, I wrote a blog reflecting on Diane Wiessinger’s seminal essay, “Watch your language.” “There are no benefits of breastfeeding,” I wrote. “There are risks of formula feeding.”

Likely spurred by the incredible success of the Fed Is Best movement and the seemingly never ending maternal accounts of starving, injured and even dead babies, Dr. Stuebe did what few have the strength and character to do; she admitted she was wrong:

… a substantial proportion of infants born in the US require supplementation. Delayed onset of lactogenesis is common, affecting 44% of first-time mothers in one study, and 1/3 of these infants lost >10% of their birth weight. This suggests that 15% of infants — about 1 in 7 breastfed babies — will have an indication for supplementation.

That’s the essence of good medical practice. When you become aware of new data, new research or new innovations, you change your advice accordingly.

Sadly, Dr. Jack Newman has done the exact opposite. When faced with evidence that his advice is leading to iatrogenic injuries to babies, he’s doubling down. As it has become increasingly clear that relentless pressure to breastfeed is leading to serious, potentially life threatening weight loss, he casually (and without any scientific evidence) dismissed the accuracy and value of newborn weights.

That was bad enough, but now he’s using sophistry to minimize the deadly impact of both neonatal jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

What’s sophistry?

[It’s] the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false.

Why does Dr. Newman engage in sophistry? It appears that he thinks the process of breastfeeding is more important than the outcome of a heathy baby. But no process is more important than whether a baby lives or dies. No process is more important than preventable brain injuries and death.

Consider Dr. Newman’s inexcusable approach to hyperbilirubinemia that appears on the website for his International Breastfeeding Centre.

It is usual and normal for babies to become jaundiced in the days after birth. But the bilirubin that causes the yellow colour of the baby’s skin is protective (it’s an antioxidant) and too often we treat higher than average bilirubin levels in a sort of panic state. Hardly ever does anyone routinely take time to watch babies drinking at the breast right after birth and before they become jaundiced. Once the jaundice becomes a worry for the staff on the ward, the solution always becomes phototherapy which misses the real issue …

Bilirubin is protective? That’s sophistry. Bilirubin in “high normal” amounts is an anti-oxidant but no one has demonstrated that it has any protective effect in neonates. Above high normal rates, bilirubin is a NEUROTOXIN.

As the paper Bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction explains:

Bilirubin is a beneficial antioxidant at low levels, but a neurotoxin at higher levels, where it can impair the normal developmental maturation of the neonatal brain. This “silent toxin” can have a deleterious impact that is further exacerbated by co-morbidities such as inflammation/sepsis, oxidative stress, prematurity, and even sociocultural environmental factors. Failure to recognize or identify infants at high risk for developing extreme hyperbilirubinemia can lead to severe neurologic sequelae, which include athetoid cerebral palsy (CP) or kernicterus to a range of subtle cellular damage or clinical dysfunction …

A high normal levels of bilirubin in the first week of life is common, so common that it is known as “physiologic jaundice.” No pediatrician or neonatologist worries about physiologic jaundice. In contrast, high levels of bilirubin can lead to cerebral palsy or brain damage (kernicterus, literally “yellow brain”). Dr. Newman casually dismisses the bilirubin in hyperbilirubenemia as an “innocent bystander.”

The problem is not the bilirubin, the problem is inadequate feeding. The bilirubin is an “innocent bystander”, blamed for brain damage when it is the dehydration, acidosis and other metabolic abnormalities that are the problem in severe cases of poor breastfeeding. Phototherapy may bring down the bilirubin, but it doesn’t fix the problem, which is that the baby is not breastfeeding well. Fix the breastfeeding before the situation deteriorates and phototherapy and supplementation would not be necessary most of the time.

That’s deadly sophistry. The problem in hyperbilirubinemia is not that the baby isn’t breastfeeding well; that’s the CAUSE of the hyperbilirubinemia. Indeed, the baby may be breastfeeding just fine; as Dr. Stuebe noted, delayed onsent of lactation is common. The problem is that the baby is not getting enough milk and that can easily be fixed by supplementing with formula.

There is simply no benefit of breastmilk that is worth allowing your new baby’s brain to bathe in a neurotoxin. Dr. Newman’s effort to minimize a deadly problem is simply inexcusable. It’s almost as if he thinks breastfeeding is more important than infant health and wellbeing.

He takes the same absurd approach to neonatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is one of the commonest reasons for formula supplementation in the first few days after birth. But most babies are tested for low blood sugar for no good reason, and most babies get formula by bottle also unnecessarily.

No good reason? That’s not what the scientific evidence shows.

Neonatal hypoglycemia, defined as a plasma glucose level of less than 30 mg/dL (1.65 mmol/L) in the first 24 hours of life and less than 45 mg/dL (2.5 mmol/L) thereafter, is the most common metabolic problem in newborns. Major long-term sequelae include neurologic damage resulting in mental retardation, recurrent seizure activity, developmental delay, and personality disorders…

Hypoglycemia should be treated as soon as possible to prevent complications of neurologic damage.

But not according to Dr. Newman:

There is a lot of hysteroglycemia [sic] out there and the “treatment” of it is causing many babies to be unnecessarily supplemented with formula often with bottles.

It’s almost as if he thinks it’s more important to avoid supplementation with formula than to avoid neonatal brain damage. But no process is more important than whether a baby lives or dies. No process is more important than preventable brain injuries.

Dr. Newman appears to be engaged in a battle to promote breastfeeding when he really should be promoting infant health and well being. Dr. Newman and other professional lactivists have been losing ground in their efforts to protect breastfeeding above infant health.

Their original position was that breastfeeding (unlike all other physiological functions) is always perfect and all women will produce enough milk before the baby begins to suffer.

The first fallback position was that, yes, some woman might have delayed lactation or insufficient lactation in the early days, but babies are “designed” to withstand that.

The next fallback position was that, yes, some babies lose an excessive amount of weight, but weights aren’t accurate or meaningful and anyway, so long as the baby doesn’t develop complications of weight loss and dehydration (like hyperbilirubinemia and hypoglycemia) it doesn’t matter.

Now Dr. Newman appears to be falling back to the preposterous and deadly position that hyperbilirubinemia and hypoglycemia aren’t problems (bilirubin is an anti-oxidant!) and we shouldn’t become hysterical (hysteroglycemia!) about it.

What’s next Dr. Newman, better dead than formula fed?

Dr. Newman has lost sight of the ethical imperative of all physicians, to place patient welfare first. The physician’s job is never to promote a process above the best possible outcome. Sadly, Dr. Newman seems to have forgotten that … or perhaps he never knew.

  • Faustina Chay

    I had an abundant supply that came in at the end of day 3. I latched and bottle fed my LO, she gained weight well, peed and pooped properly. Still her bilirubin levels skyrocketed and she needed 2 rounds of photo therapy. in between the 1st and 2nd round of treatment,at one point (i cant remember when but it was definitely before the 2nd round of phototherapy) , i stopped giving her bm for 2 days. and in that 2 days, her serum bilirubin levels dropped a whopping 20%. to me, if 1 tin of formula can make my life much easier (it’s no fun dealing with the equipment and the frequent follow ups)at a fraction of the cost of doing phototherapy…i see why not?

  • Sue

    Just looked up Jack Newman MD, for some background. He’s a Toronto Pediatrician who graduated med school in 1970 and seems to have completed active pediatric practice in the 1990s. He appears to have been a consultant to UNICEF, involved in countries in Africa and Nicarague.

    Perhaps he has taken the important principles about infant feeding in the developing world, and misapplied them in the wealthy world. That, added to potential Relevance Deprivation Syndrome.

    • Young CC Prof

      There are issues with extreme lactivism even in poor countries. Nigeria is dealing with an epidemic of neonatal jaundice that they don’t have the resources to treat.

      Yes, prelacteal feeding with unsafe drinks is dangerous, but even in poor countries, cracking down on ALL prelacteal feeding maybe wasn’t the right move.

      • Madtowngirl

        It seems that finding ways to have access to safe drinking water would be a much better solution…but hey, that doesn’t fit the lactivist agenda.

  • Sue

    “most babies are tested for low blood sugar for no good reason” sounds a bit like the old “House of God” principle: “If you don’t take a temperature, you don’t find a fever”.

    The “House of God” (Samuel Shem 1978) was wryly amusing and very popular in the 1970s and 80s, but nobody would consider it to reflect good clinical practice – it reflects the screwed up coping mechanisms of ridiculously over-worked people, out of their depth.

    Just like with infant feeding, know better now, and can do better.

  • Teresita

    I am so thankful for foundations like Fed is Best (and sites like SOB). When I gave birth 2 weeks ago my kid lost 9% of her birthweight overnight. The wonderful pediatrician came in with a bottle of formula. The nurses were totally supportive of formula. I’m exclusively breastfeeding now, but I sure am glad we had the chance to supplement. 2.5 years ago I had my first in the same hospital and they were totally overbearing with breastfeeding. I, of course, exclusively breastfed with my first because that’s “best.” Now that I have had a second kid I feel awful because I can tell my first was hungry!

    Not being in the medical field just wanted to say I very much appreciate those of you speaking up for those of us with limited knowledge! My little anecdote is hopefully a sign of a larger trend.

    • sdsures

      Congrats on your baby! Hope she’s doing better now.

    • demodocus

      Congrats! You did the best you could based on the recommendations of the hospital staff. Sounds like the pendulum might be starting to swing back a bit.

  • MI Dawn

    Oh my god. I’m so glad he wasn’t MY kids’ doctor. I had milk like a cow, pouring out of my breasts from day 1 after delivery, and STILL had babies with bili levels over 20. I’d much rather give my kids formula, sugar water, plain water, whatever after nursing and make sure they’d stay healthy.

    Damn, I’m going to have mega arguments with staff if/when my kids have babies, if the hospitals promote this junk. Thankfully, my kids know I know and care.

    • Young CC Prof

      There are several risk factors for dangerously elevated bilirubin in newborns. The most easily modifiable is milk intake, because adequately fed babies clear bili more easily, but it’s certainly not the only one.

      Other risk factors include traumatic birth, birth before 38 weeks, blood type mismatch, especially if Mom is O and baby is A, and certain genetic variants. Babies with these risk factors can need phototherapy even if fed ample milk from birth.

      • MI Dawn

        Yeah. My kids hit that sort of birth bingo – born at 37 and 36 weeks respectively, both births induced for maternal pre-eclampsia, and ABO incompatibility (I am B+, Eldest is AB+ and Youngest is A+). Which is why were weren’t overly surprised or distressed by the elevated bilis. Nor was I bothered by the use of bili lights inbetween feedings for Eldest.

        But then, I was (and still am) a very abnormal mom – baby could go to nursery, supplements were OK, others could give a bottle while I slept, and yes, baby slept in a separate room from the day we got home from the hospital AND (gasp) I used a play pen… Doesn’t seem to have scarred them much.

      • MaineJen

        “Esp if mom is O and baby is A” oooooh that explains my son’s bilirubin problems. 🙂 He was a champion feeder, so it certainly wasn’t that…

  • Mattie

    I made the mistake of (Shock Horror) suggesting that breastfeeding isn’t all that important objectively for UK society, and especially not as important as good parental leave that can be equally shared by two parents. Didn’t go down too well on that particular mummy board.

    • sdsures

      That’s what makes me afraid of joining mummy groups in the UK. 🙁

      • Mattie

        It’s even better when you hear that it was a thread about how non-binary doesn’t exist and is a scary fad that’s ruining lives and corrupting children *eyeroll*

        • Roadstergal

          Man, I wish I had the chance to have been corrupted by that! It would have made my life just a hair easier as a youngun. Not to mention fidget spinners, too.

          • Mattie

            They hate those too, although in fairness the fidget spinners have gotten out of hand in schools I think

          • Heidi

            In my day, slap bracelets were the items that kinda got out of hand and many got confiscated and put in the teacher’s desk until the end of the day. It’ll always be something.

          • MaineJen

            I remember when Bart Simpson T shirts were banned. It was a simpler time…

          • Heidi

            I owned a night bag that was essentially a Bart doll in red striped PJs. I’m not sure it was very functional due to the fact it *maybe* could’ve held a 12 oz. soda can.

          • Mattie

            Yeh, the sad thing is that slap bracelets didn’t have a ‘use’ other than to be annoying and popular, fidget toys are really helpful for people with ADD or autism, and them becoming popular and being banned then leads to more of a stigma for the people who actually need them

          • mishabear

            Curious as I see them around my kids’ school, but how are fidget toys anything other than a money grab…? In my (admittedly long past) day, kids twirled pens/pencils around their thumb or moved them between their fingers, thumb to pinky and back…for free.

          • demodocus

            Apparently, they genuinely help kids with ASD or ADHD to focus, but for most kids they’re a toy.
            Pencils are cheap, but not free.

          • Mattie

            True, there will always be that option 🙂 I think that the spinners and the cubes are just ‘different’, the cubes especially have different ways of fidgeting with them depending on what you need at the time. The spinners can be used one handed and under the table with minimal ‘dexterity’ and won’t end up with a pen or pencil accidentally shot across the room lol

          • Roadstergal

            It was ungainly and stained my fingers. :p

          • momofone

            My son loves them. I don’t get the appeal, not being a fidgeter, but his teacher also loves them. She lets them play with them at designated times (generally the end of the day). She says she doesn’t really care one way or another about the spinners themselves, but that if they motivate the kids to do what they need to do, she’ll use them.

  • Emilie Bishop

    The article by Dr. Newman made me sick. It’s about two steps away from declaring that babies who can’t breastfeed should just be left to struggle to nurse until they die. Or maybe that mothers who can’t breastfeed shouldn’t have children? Either way, it’s ablism bordering on eugenics. By his logic, I should have just let my son die of dehydration and starvation while forcing him to breastfeed with every ounce of strength we both had left. Um, NO. My son is NOT better off dead or brain-damaged than having been fed formula as an infant. Neither are the countless babies who likewise suffered under lactivist shaming and policy. I’d like to see him do what he advocates to one of his own children and see how it feels to know they needlessly suffered.

    • BeatriceC

      By his logic I should have let my last baby die before he had a chance to be born instead of weaning my middle son to formula to give my body a chance to gestate the little one. I’m rather fond of all my children, so yeah, no.

      • Mattie

        Were you not able to feed while pregnant? Totally ok that you didn’t, and even if you ‘could’ you absolutely shouldn’t have had to! Just curious 🙂

        • BeatriceC

          My OB history is horrific. My body simply couldn’t handle the demands of both.

  • Sarah

    ‘It’s almost as if he thinks it’s more important to avoid supplementation with formula than to avoid neonatal brain damage.’

    Almost?

    • Roadstergal

      It’s like the “Hope” weaseling with Trump.

  • Christy

    “There is a lot of hysteroglycemia [sic] out there and the “treatment” of it is causing many babies to be unnecessarily supplemented with formula often with bottles.”

    *clutches pearls*

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      yes , why would we want to actually “feed” hungry babies./snark
      What is wrong with this guy? He thinks it’s better to starve a hungry baby than feed them formula.

      • Sheven

        I wonder how the doctor would feel if a breastfeeding mom were to demand that he starve himself as long as her baby starved.
        Or maybe the rule for breastfeeding extremists should be, “If you can’t eat a perfectly balanced and nutritional meal plan today, you can’t eat today.” I have a feeling they’d be willing to settle for “fourth best” really quickly.

        • swbarnes2

          If you said of your 5 year old, or your 15 year old “Yeah, kid hasn’t eaten for 3 days”, people would call CPS on you. But if we are talking about a fragile newborn, BFHI hospitals encourage that, because that’s what their metrics reward.

          • Sheven

            “I couldn’t get organic, locally-sourced, non-GMO, whole grain bread, so I didn’t feed my kid at all.”

            “But that’s cruel! And non-GMO foods aren’t even superior no GMO foods!”

            “I THINK THEY ARE AND I’M ONLY GOING TO FEED HIM THE BEST.”

            “Yeah, I’m calling CPS.”

      • sdsures

        Maybe someone starved him when he was a baby, and despite massive brain damage he managed to get a medical degree?

  • Sheven

    I have to say, good for Dr. Alison Steube. I think we all know how hard it is to admit error, and most of us have had a tough time with it in cases far less critical than this. It must be a very tough time for people who sincerely believed that they were doing what was best for a whole generation of children. Adjusting the message to accommodate something they’d fought against for so long takes real character.

    • swbarnes2

      But then you see later posts on her page that say things like this:

      “Preventing the need for supplementation altogether should be a common goal for all members of the healthcare team.”

      If 15% of babies require supplementation, you shouldn’t setting a goal of giving 0% of babies supplementation.

      • sdsures

        Starving babies as a goal in the medical profession. Nice.

        • swbarnes2

          You can read the BFHI…there are a lot of kinds of goals like “80% of moms should educated about this” or “80% of moms should receive this or that kind of care”. There is not as far as I can see “80% of babies should be fed before discharge, as verified by an LC observing swallowing, or supplementation”. 80% of moms are supposed to have the opportunity to breastfeed, and the hospital is supposed to account for all the supplementation (and that percentage is supposed to drop every year) but babies leaving the hospital after 3 days of not eating isn’t tracked. Neither are hospital re-admissions. You best satisfy the guidelines by supplementing no one, and getting mother and baby out the door, making them someone else’s problem.

          • Young CC Prof

            In 25 years, no one associated with the BFHI has ever studied outcomes other than breastfeeding rates. No one has looked at, tracked, or considered the incidence of neonatal complications.

            It seemed like a good idea at the time, but no one ever followed up, just doubled down, over and over again, and covered their ears when evidence of unintended consequences started to appear.

      • AnnaPDE

        “Preventing the need” — well, better get working your wonders then.
        If Stuebe et al found a way to get decent amounts of milk in all or at least most mums’ breasts by, say, 1 hour postpartum (or, let’s be generous here, 12 hours pp), that’d reduce the NEED for supplementation, and lots more mums would happily and safely EBF. Until then, that baby is going to need to eat something, and if mum has no boob juice, that leaves supplementation. I’m not sure what other solution they’re hoping for — I’m pretty sure there’s no “Pause” button on babies that’s waiting to be found.

        • Roadstergal

          Mum’s breasts? If they unlock the secret of reliable lactation, why not make sure dad is doing his fair share, too? Hell, Dr Newman should step up to the plate, since he cares so much about babies getting breastmilk.

          • swbarnes2

            I think we already have quotes of him saying that breastfeeding is about so much more than milk, it’s about closeness. Hence, he should have a lot of personal experience with SNS, if the breastfeeding experience really is all that crucial.

            My guess is, he thinks that until it’s time for him to inconvenience himself a bit, and then breastfeeding is a ladies only experience, and he goes back to making money, or playing video games, or whatever behavior he thinks his male physiology is better suited for.

          • Young CC Prof

            There are cultures in which fathers regularly engage in dry-nursing.

  • rox123

    So it is abnormal if babies lose any weight in the first days? If they are properly supplemented/bottle fed until the mothers have adequate amounts of milk – they shouldn’t lose any weight? Because everywhere I look there are stories about babies checking out of hospital lighter then they were when they were born.

    • rox123 , It is normal for babies to lose some weight after birth. Anyone saying otherwise is just trying to fear monger mothers into supplementing. When SOB first started blogging she went after home birth , now she is going after breastfeeding . It’s quite sad actually.

      • Amazed

        Oh look. The Milk Woman’s champion is back.

        • Oh look the SOB minion in here. That didn’t take long.

          • Sarah

            Yeah, if only she was the free thinker you are, eh?

          • Amazed

            Indeed it didn’t. Why did you change your ‘nym? What made you come back here after such a long pause? This post wasn’t even about the Milk Woman.

            Look, you know just as well as I do that no one here is after breastfeeding. You know no one here cares if you breastfeed your children in school breaks. And you very well know that your lactivists talk won’t convince anyone that formula is this risky and oh, that you care about shaming formula feeding mothers.

            Show us how properly prepared formula in sufficient amount harmed any baby as much as proper (according to lactivists) breastfeeding killed baby Landon or shut up.

      • LaMont

        Who is saying otherwise? Not Dr Amy… nor does she dislike breastfeeding but the “see what you want to see” is strong with you…

      • rox123

        “..otherwise is just trying to fear monger mothers into supplementing”
        Ok, but I don’t see what’s the issue with being safe rather than sorry. What harm is a bottle of formula going to cause?

        • Heidi_storage

          None, unless it’s prepared with unsafe water. Those ready-to-feed nursettes are great. Some people worry about nipple confusion and supply issues, but the research really doesn’t validate such concerns.

          • Mac Sherbert

            Plus, to supplement formula after birth you don’t have to actually use a bottle. You can supplement at the breast and that takes care of both nipple confusion and the need for breasts to be stimulated to make milk. I had to do that with both my kids. Oh, well. They are happy and healthy now.

          • Heidi_storage

            You mean those SNS things? They were a pain, so I preferred bottles. (Plus, I like being able to hand off the kid to someone else while I sleep.) Whatever works for you is good, but I don’t know that we should be warning people against dangers that may not exist (ie nipple confusion).

          • Heidi

            I was brought one without anyone asking if I was okay with it. The LC just came in with it and put it on me. I could have told them from the beginning I was not interested! It didn’t work – the baby refused to have anything to do with my nipple once that tube was on there. His blood sugar stayed low until a night nurse who didn’t worship the lactation team brought us a handful of nipples.

          • Heidi_storage

            Well, that’s just wrong. Way to pitch autonomy out the window.

          • Heidi

            Yes. Next baby, if I have one, I’ve already decided I’m just going to say I’m formula feeding. I actually do plan to see if breastfeeding works this time around, but I am not putting up with syringe feeding or SNS or LCs popping in without so much as, “May I touch you?” or “Is this a good time?”

          • Heidi_storage

            I hope your hospital supports you!

          • Heidi

            I hope so, too, if only because I hope they support all women. I’m bringing a case of nursettes and nipples if they somehow don’t support me (they aren’t BFHI [yet]) and telling any LCs, “No thanks, not interested. Please leave.” They didn’t formula shame, though, but that could have been only because I had doctor’s orders to formula feed after many low blood sugars. I just hate that we put up with all those glucose sticks and I fed every 2 hours for 30 minutes at a time for something that could have literally been nipped in a matter of minutes with a bottle.

          • Mac Sherbert

            No not those SNS things I wouldn’t do that either. Just using syringes at the breast. Yeah, I don’t buy the nipple confusion thing either. My son wasn’t confused he knew he preferred a bottle and my DD preferred the breast (but could eat from bottle when needed.)

      • Heidi_storage

        I’ll agree that she doesn’t like homebirth, especially in the US, but not that she doesn’t like breastfeeding. She repeatedly states that she enjoyed breastfeeding her four babies. The problem is that its benefits are exaggerated and its risks ignored, to the detriment of babies and mothers.

        • It isn’t that the benefits are exaggerated it’s because the wording had to be changed from “Risks of not breastfeeding” to the “Benefits of breastmilk” which opened the door for people to try and poke holes because some breastfed babies didn’t “benefit” from something…. It’s not that breastfeeding has amazing benefits , it’s what you risk when you don’t breastfeed. But we can’t talk about those risks because then it’s “formula shaming.” It’s okay to talk about risks associated with breastfeeding though. No double standard there at all.

          • Heidi_storage

            Well, here’s the question: Overall, is formula-feeding riskier (in a developed country) than breastfeeding? I would say “no,” but perhaps “it depends” is a better answer. But positioning breastfeeding to be considered the normative feeding method absolutely is shaming parents who use formula.

          • Sheven

            But the benefits of breastfeeding are exaggerated. I’ve seen people claim exclusive breastfeeding reduces everything from ADHD to obesity to asthma, all the while sibling studies showed no connection to ADHD and obesity and *higher* rates of asthma in exclusively breastfed children.

          • Sarah

            It is absolutely that the benefits are exaggerated, indeed they are sometimes entirely invented.

          • OttawaAlison

            The reality is the “risks” of formula feeding are often given without context, cofounders and without ways to mitigate any risks. If you here big %s but then learn the absolute risk is very low, without stating the absolute risk it is pretty much fear mongering.

            I was terrified to use formula due to all the supposed benefits of breast milk and the “risks” of formula feeding – well my daughter kept losing weight so I reluctantly started supplementing her. She changed right away to being a happy content baby.

            She’s now a very healthy almost 11 year old, when I learned the actual amount of risks and cofounders I was unbelievably pissed.

          • MI Dawn

            OK. Name those benefits. Very few for baby, and not much for mom (maybe a lower chance of breast cancer).

          • swbarnes2

            Okay, show us what these risks of formula feeding are, using only well-controlled studies. Nothing in the third world, (everyone already admits that dirty water is dangerous for babies in any context) and it must control for different socioeconomic differences between breastfeeding families and formula feeding families.

            For instance, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4077166/

            Is well controlled, as is

            http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2017/03/23/peds.2016-1848

          • BeatriceC

            If neither of us were married, I’d be proposing to you right now.

          • swbarnes2

            If we’re both widows some day..and you’re okay with a mariachi band at the reception…I’ll think about it.

          • BeatriceC

            Mariachi bands are cool.

          • Sarah

            You’d have some competition from this corner.

          • Sue

            Not to mention that the infant microbiome is highly changeable until the child is settled on a soild diet.

          • Sue

            No, Kristy- it IS about benefits being exaggerated, AND risks also being exaggerated.

            Are you aware that the objective health benefits for full-term babies in wealthy societies is very little influenced by feeding method? Have you read the references?

            On its own, 6mths exclusive BF is associated with a small decrease in minor infections in the first year, all other things being equal (as stated by Bofa). The rate of infectious diseases is strongly influenced by exposure – other sibs, infectious contacts, group care.

          • Roadstergal

            Hi, Breastfeeding Mama Talk!

            Here’s my challenge to all lactivists who drop in.

            I was born in the ’70s. This was the nadir of breastfeeding in the US, with an initiation rate under 30%. Breastfeeding rates have skyrocketed since then, by all measures – initiation (now pushing 90%), exclusivity at 3 months, exclusivity at 6 months, you name it.

            Can you point to the benefit that all of this breastfeeding is giving us? What are the generations born in the aughts getting over us, health-wise? Especially when it comes to what lactivists say breastmilk helps with – obesity, chronic conditions, etc?

          • yentavegan

            You and I are probably cut from similar cloths. I defined my entire existence on breastfeeding and attachment parenting. I thought that if all the mothers would just breastfeed and devote themselves to being with in arms reach of their infants/babies ..then the world would magically be a healthier, saner peaceful , less crime, less drug abuse, more tolerant utopian blah blah blah….then my children grew up and reality came stampeding into my fantasy world. My way of doing things is not better or more enlightened or the ideal for anyone other than me.

          • N

            I think I’m going the same path than you. I thought the same things, the world, the whole humanity could be better, if only… breastfeeding/attachment parenting/cosleeping… And now? My oldest is 9 years old. Ok, his IQ is around 130. But that is genetic, as mine is too and some family members even higher. For the rest? He will now be one of three in his class with glasses, needs brasses, hates school and homework. Is by far not the best of the best of the best at school… and among the worst in sports (genetic too!), I see other children, they do better, are happy too, have way less tamper tantrums than my 9 year old… and I can totally not say how they were fed or parented as babies/toddlers. So I did what I did because it suited us as a family and basta! Let others do what suits them and their families.

          • MaineJen

            …what do you risk if you don’t breastfeed? Please enlighten me.

      • swbarnes2

        Sigh She’s not “going after breastfeeding”. She’s going after people who lie about the benefits of breastfeeding, and who lie about the supposed dangers of formula.

        An honest person would appreciate someone who attacks liars.

      • Sheven

        And thank goodness she went after homebirth, right? I mean, with the insane lack of training for midwives in the US and the much, much higher death rate. Babies were and are dying because it was harder in many states to get a license to do hair than to get a license to deliver babies. Even now, the training for Certified Professional Midwives is a joke. Someone had to publicize that fact. Do you not think it’s important, with articles talking about how popular homebirth is in Europe and encouraging women to turn away from hospitals, for someone to note how few American midwives are trained to anywhere near international standards and how the death rate of homebirth is far higher than that of hospital birth?

      • Sarah

        If by sad you mean timely, accurate and necessary, absolutely.

      • MI Dawn

        Sure. A little weight loss *is* normal. Not 10+% of a baby’s body weight. NOT bilirubins over 20. Not blood sugars under 40. What are you so afraid of, BMT? I had tons of milk. Supplementing in the early days didn’t hurt any, and letting someone give a bottle so I could get a little extra sleep saved my sanity in the first few weeks after birth.

      • Roadstergal

        I don’t care what’s normal and natural. Dying in childbirth is normal and natural.

        If a baby has a mom blessed with abundant colostrum and early milk, and therefore loses no weight, is that a bad thing? Should she then pump and dump to make sure her baby loses weight? What is her baby missing out on by not doing so?

      • Young CC Prof

        Some weight loss is normal, so my son losing 14% of his body weight with a sodium level of 159 was also totally normal, right? (Sodium concentration of 159 is a life-threatening electrolyte imbalance in a person of any age. He could have had a heart attack.)

      • yentavegan

        No, sorry to burst the bubble. I am a long time breastfeeding promoter/volunteer and I have in the past also assumed that the information I was given about weight loss in the newborn and the length of time permitted to regain the birth weight was sound advice. I have been devoted to supporting lactation for 3 decades now and I have assisted more than one thousand mothers. I am no scientist but I can say without reservation that an infant who does not weigh more at the 14th day of life than they did at birth is not being fed correctly.

    • Amazed

      No one ever said it was abnormal for babies to lose any weight. It’s, however, wrong not to distinguish between “any weight” and “significant amount of weight”. It’s abnormal to pretend that weight loss of as much as 10 percent or higher is just a little innocent “normal weight loss” and unfortunately, that’s what many lactivists try to do, including lactivist doctors and LCs.

    • Heidi_storage

      Nah, it’s normal for babies to lose weight, and most of the time it’s fine. I think you want no more than 7% (my hospital did 10%) loss, and baby should regain her weight by 2 weeks postpartum. Obviously, weight loss isn’t the only thing to look at; a baby that’s yellow, lethargic, or cold needs to be checked out ASAP.

    • swbarnes2

      Here’s a reference. The paper’s title is stupid, but look at table 1. Formula fed babies very rarely lose more than 10% of their weight, but most of them lose some. Babies who don’t get much or any formula are much much more likely to lose > 10% of their birth weight.

      http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/1/e171

      • rox123

        Thank you. I wasn’t sure if losing some birthweight is normal or not. I thought it was happening only if the baby was starved.

        • lawyer jane

          Losing some weight is normal, but not more than 7%, and it should all be regained within a week or two.

          • yentavegan

            It is a red flag that the infant is being underfed when at the two week check up the baby weighs less or the same as the initial birth weight. Please ignore all the propaganda about “maternal iv fluids causing excess birth weight in infant”. That idea is a fallacy promoted by agenda driven lactation professionals.