World Breastfeeding Week 2017, another ridiculous lactivist campaign

Concept of lies. Lie detector with text.

I’ve been writing about mothering issues for over a decade and that gives me an interesting perspective on lactivist marketing campaigns: they’re constantly changing because they never work to lactivists’ satisfaction.

The latest campaign has been trotted out for World Breastfeeding Week 2017: ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity. This campaign is going to fail for the obvious reason that breastfeeding is incapable of doing any of those things and anyone with a modicum of sense would know that.

Breastfeeding as a way to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity? That’s bullshit.

But lactivism isn’t about common sense and it isn’t even about babies. It’s about marketing the products and services of the breastfeeding industry while pretending that all women need these products and services and all babies benefit from these products and services. That’s why the moralization of breastfeeding has paralleled the monetization of breastfeeding.

The primary lactivist goal is unreasonable: to ensure nearly 100% exclusive, extended breastfeeding. It’s simply not biologically possible since the incidence of insufficient breastmilk supply is common, not rare (a lactivist lie). The goal is also anti-feminist. One of the cornerstones of feminism is the right of women to control their own bodies including their breasts. The lactivist goal is also absurd. For most of human existence there was nearly 100% exclusive, extended breastfeeding, and infant mortality rates were astronomical.

Before addressing why the World Breastfeeding Week 2017 campaign is the most ridiculous yet, it’s worth reviewing the previous campaigns.

The heart and soul of contemporary lactivism is lying about the benefits and risks. Breastmilk is literally presented as the “perfect food” for babies. But for a food to be perfect for babies, it needs to meet three criteria:

  • It must be nutritionally complete.
  • It must be available in the perfect amount.
  • A baby must be able to access as much as he or she needs.

Breastmilk is not nutritionally complete; it lacks vitamin D. Many women don’t make enough breastmilk to fully nourish an infant. And many infants have impediments (low muscle tone, poor suck) that make it impossible for them to access as much milk from the breast as they need.

But claiming breastmilk as perfect for all babies is only the beginning of the lactivist lies. Lactivist organizations — and sadly the WHO and UNICEF under the relentless lobbying of lactivist organizations — has insisted that the scientific evidence shows that breastfeeding has a host of health benefits. Most of the scientific evidence about breastfeeding is weak, conflicting and riddled with confounders. Since breastfeeding in industrialized nations is associated with maternal socio-economic status, most of the benefits claimed for breastfeeding are actually benefits of being well off with easy access to healthcare. No matter, lactivism has positioned fear of depriving babies of benefits as critical to their efforts.

Even lying about breastfeeding hasn’t been able to achieve lactivist goals, so they’ve extended their campaign in a variety of ways.

For years, “normalizing” breastfeeding has been a centerpiece of lactivist efforts. Ignoring what women told them about why they stopped or didn’t start breastfeeding — it can be painful, frustrating, exhausting and inconvenient — lactivists insisted that breastfeeding rates are low because of social pressure to formula feed. They embarked upon a relentless, multimillion dollar campaign to normalize breastfeeding, in other words to apply social pressure to breastfeed. Although many more women leave the hospital claiming they will breastfeed, and many more women feel guilty about not breastfeeding, the lactivist goal of 100% breastfeeding is nowhere in sight.

Critics of lactivism pointed out that it takes a village to raise a child, not a breast and therefore pressuring individual women to breastfeed is a classic neoliberal response to a health issue: putting the blame on individuals and discounting the role of government. Lactivists have responded with a new iteration in which government is condemned for not supporting breastfeeding enough — although it is supporting breastfeeding with more money and greater effort than any time in the past.

Moreover, it has become obvious that breastfeeding has risks as well as benefits. Critics have drawn attention to serious complications and deaths from insufficient breastmilk. The Fed Is Best Foundation has led the way in this area and its spectacular success in changing the dialogue is testament to the widespread nature of breastfeeding problems. How have lactivists responded? They’ve responded with unadulterated chutzpah. After literally decades of promoting breastfeeding by making women fear formula as substandard and a sign of personal weakness, lactivists have had the unmitigated gall to decry the fear generated by informing women about the fact that insufficient breastmilk is common, not rare.

World Breastfeeding Week 2017 represents a new acme in lies about breastfeeding: it’s not just a feeding method; it’s a way to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity. That’s bullshit.

According to WBW2017:

Breastfeeding is a vital part of sustainable development and a non-negotiable component of global action to end malnutrition…

Really? For most of human existence, when all babies were breastfed, there was never any hunger or malnutrition? Actually, as everyone knows, hunger and malnutrition were ubiquitous. Breastfeeding never prevented hunger and malnutrition in the past and it isn’t about to start now. Breastmilk does not come from thin air; it is produced from food eaten by mothers. No food for mothers = no breastmilk for babies. Unless and until breastmilk causes food to grow, it will never prevent hunger and malnutrition.

The health of our planet is affected by the way babies are fed. Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste. The breastmilk substitute industry, on the other hand, carries a negative environmental impact that is not commonly recognised…

That’s hilarious! How green is the extra food (including meat from cows) needed to create breastmilk? Is there any evidence that the production of breastmilk takes less farming, fertilizers and transportation of food than the production of cow’s milk? How green is the plastic used in breast pumps? How green is the electricity used to run the pump and store the refrigerated or frozen breastmilk? How green are breast pads, nursing bras and lactation consultants (fuel needed to get to and from patients)? Oops! Maybe breastfeeding isn’t that green after all!

How about the claim that breastfeeding increases prosperity? The folks at WBW2017 don’t even bother to provide evidence of that, presumably because there is no such evidence.

The truth — an inconvenient truth that lactivists refuse to acknowledge — is that breastmilk is just milk, not magic. It doesn’t have magical health benefits. It doesn’t magically make women better mothers than those who formula feed. It doesn’t magically prevent hunger and malnutrition. It isn’t particularly environmentally friendly compared to formula feeding and it has no impact whatsoever on prosperity.

Therefore this campaign, like all the lactivist campaigns before it, is doomed to failure.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    Totally OT:
    Sorry I haven’t been around. Had a rather severe bout of depression I’m coming out of but I definitely wanted to come back to have a good, fact based support group… because I am on the last two pills of the last birth control pack I’ll be taking for a while and I’m both ecstatic and completely terrified.

    So advice for how to mentally prepare and get over the “Holy shit wtf am I thinking?!” reaction that comes and goes is welcome!

  • wormcast

    Read this summary of a massive metastudy of the health impacts of breastfeeding, conducted by the Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center in Boston: http://www.phdinparenting.com/blog/2009/5/14/the-scientific-benefits-of-breastfeeding.html

    Highlights:
    The benefits to the child

    There are a number of health benefits to the breastfed child, some of them are significant and others are less significant.For full term infants the benefits include:

    Acute otitis media (middle ear infections): Babies that were ever breastfed had a 23 percent lower incidence of acute otitis media than exclusively formula fed babies.

    Atopic dermatitis (type of eczema): In families with a history of atopy, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months was found to have a 42 percent reduction in atopic dermatitis compared with breastfeeding for less than 3 months.

    Gastrointestinal infections: Infants who were breastfeeding had a 64 percent reduction in the risk of non-specific gastroenteritis compared with infants who were not breastfeeding.

    Lower respiratory tract diseases: There is a 72 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization due to lower respiratory tract diseases in infants less than 1 year of age who were exclusively breastfed for 4 months or more.

    Asthma: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months was associated with a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma for those without a family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction for those with a family history of asthma.

    Type 1 Diabetes: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months results in between a 19 and 27 percent reduction in incidence of childhood Type 1 Diabetes compared with breastfeeding for less than 3 months (findings confirmed through multiple studies, but some cause for caution in interpreting results).

    Type 2 Diabetes: Found a 39 percent reduction in risk of Type 2 diabetes later in life for people that were breastfed as infants (some cause for caution in interpreting results).

    Childhood Leukemia: Breastfeeding for at least 6 months associated with 19 percent decrease in risk of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia and a 15 percent decrease in the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia.

    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The meta-analysis found that breastfeeding was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS compared to not breastfeeding. Another study completed since the meta-anlaysis was done found a 50 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS as a result of breastfeeding.

    The benefits to the mother

    Often people only talk about the benefits to the baby, but forget to talk about the benefits to the mother. Women that are having trouble breastfeeding and considering giving up should think about not only their child’s health, but also their own health and weigh the short-term issues they are having with breastfeeding against the longer term potential health benefits. Those benefits include:

    Maternal type 2 diabetes: In women with no history of gestational diabetes, each additional year of breastfeeding resulted in a 4 to 12 percent reduction in the risk of maternal type 2 diabetes (only nurses included in these studies though, so interpreting results for general population must be done with care).

    Breast cancer: A reduction of risk of contracting breast cancer of 4.3 percent for each year of breastfeeding (one study) or 28 percent for 12 or more months of breastfeeding (another study). Another study that I reported on in Save Yourself, Save Our Health Care System, found that if women in Canada breastfed for at least 16 months over their lifetime, we could cut the breast cancer rate from 6 percent of women to 3 percent of women.

    Ovarian cancer: Breastfeeding results in a 21 percent decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer

    • Lilly de Lure

      The problem with this study – as with many metastudies of breastfeeding research (particularly those conducted before 2010, which I note this one is) is that they are subject to the GIGO rule (Garbage In – Garbage Out), i.e they are only as good as the studies which are included under their umbrella.

      This is a huge issue for breastfeeding research in particular as it includes a vast number of studies which are riddled with confounding variables such as the tendency of ebf mothers to be affluent (particularly in the US where ebf is particularly difficult due to poor maternity leave provision for lower paid workers, although the same effect can be found throughout the developed world). Affluent parents tend to be healthier and have healthier children than poverty-stricken ones which provides a correlation between healthier babies and breastfeeding which is in fact due to the socio-economic status of the mother.

      When studies attempt to correct for the soci-economic status of the parents they show less of a health benefit for breastfeeding and the ones whose controls are the most robust (notably the discordant sibling study of 2014 – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953614000549 show the health difference between breast and formula fed babies of the same socioeconomic status is trivial. So whilst your list looks impressive please be aware that all you are really listing for both mother and baby are the health benefits of being rich.

    • Lilly de Lure

      The problem with this study – as with many metastudies of
      breastfeeding research is that they are subject to the GIGO rule (Garbage In – Garbage Out), i.e they are only as good as the studies which are included under their umbrella.

      This is a huge issue for breastfeeding research in particular as it includes a vast number of studies which are riddled with confounding variables such as the tendency of ebf mothers to be affluent (particularly in the US where ebf is particularly difficult due to poor maternity leave provision for lower paid workers, although the same effect can be found throughout the developed world). Affluent parents tend to be healthier and have healthier children than poverty-stricken ones which provides a correlation between healthier babies and breastfeeding which is in fact due to the socio-economic status of the mother. When studies attempt to correct for the socio-economic status of the parents they show less of a health benefit for breastfeeding and the ones whose controls are the most robust (notably the discordant sibling study of 2014) show the health difference between breast and formula fed babies of
      the same socio-economic status is trivial. So whilst your list looks
      impressive please be aware that all you are really listing for both
      mother and baby are the health benefits of being rich.

      • MI Dawn

        Yes, and it’s interesting that wormcast didn’t bother to post *WHEN* phdinparenting wrote about that study. She shut down her blog over 2 years ago…

        • swbarnes2

          Nor did the poster, or the original blogger, mention the giant “Because almost all the data in this review were gathered from observational studies, one should not infer causality based on these findings. “

        • kfunk937

          The meta-analysis/ERT assessment (full text) from AHRC was published in 2007 based on data of decidedly mixed quality through 2005. It does not appear to have been updated, save for the exclusion of fraudulent data from one researcher and subsequent reanalysis in 2009, which did not appear to affect the results (it neither improved nor degraded any signal).

          It still looks like GIGO to me, too.

  • Seeing Clearly Media

    My spelling skills have nothing to do with my ability to rationalize and research and discern between right and wrong.

    Do I want a cure for by poor spelling skills yes I am pro-cure for all illnesses and lack of skills and cognitive ability I want an autism cure so I rest in peace when I fail because at least I don’t embrace failure.

    • momofone

      Your spelling skills, or lack thereof, should be the least of your worries. Your reasoning skills are really where you need some work.

    • Azuran

      You want a cure for poor spelling?

    • Who?

      The cure for poor spelling is taking the time to learn to spell. A great way to internalise some good spelling is to read widely.

      Sounds like two birds could be killed with one stone if you were inclined to do the work.

    • kfunk937

      […] my ability to rationalize […]

      While your ability to rationalize is on display here, you might do well to acquaint yourself with the difference between the definitions of “rationalise” and “rational”. And generally speaking, particularly in scientific discussions, avoid using the former.

      As you have previously cited a chemtrails conspiracy blog, it’s also likely your use of “research” is also a bit fuzzy around the edges.

  • BeatriceC

    Totally off topic: I know I shouldn’t laugh at him, but he looks so darned funny. He got a strep infection and we also discovered he’s in the early stages of fatty liver disease, which was probably caused by years of a terrible diet before I got him. He turned to self mutilation when he wasn’t feeling well, and now he has to wear the upside down cone of shame. Also, I can’t figure out how to get it oriented properly. Sorry. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/57dd07dc7101864c5573f1993b351228fbf973e7426c280e95d23c6519a82f44.jpg

    • namaste863

      Oh no, the Cone of Shame!

    • Nick Sanders

      Reminds me of those umbrella birds from Alice in Wonderland.

    • mabelcruet

      The poor wee thing-he looks so awkward. How long does he have to keep that on?

      • BeatriceC

        Another three weeks at least. Maybe up to two months. What’s worse is he has to be in a hospital style flat cotton cage because of safety issues while the fine is on, so he’s bored. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ec16dd405b046759dff72bf486e348fee99266b9d70486ff36b9f49c5233bb38.jpg Between the softer version he managed to remove and this one it’s been on for about ten days already. We have to wait until the feathers on his chest grow back past the point of pin feathers breaking open or he is likely to pull them back out. We also have to get his diet low enough fat to get his liver functioning a little better so he’s not as uncomfortable.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Bad human, bad, bad human. *hugs*

  • Cat

    I think I’m slightly OT here, but was thinking about this today:
    I agree 100 per cent that women shouldn’t be shamed for breastfeeding in public, but it annoys me when people try to divorce that from wider issues about misogyny and “slut-shaming”. Back when my brother was at school, some boys in his class got in trouble for verbally abusing a woman who was breastfeeding her baby in the vicinity of their school trip, and some of their parents reacted badly to the telling-off (because the woman was an exhibitionist tramp who deserved it, etc). Both boys and parents behaved abominably, but their behaviour wasn’t bad because breastfeeding is beautiful, natural and the best way to feed babies – it was bad full stop because teenage boys shouldn’t think it’s acceptable to cat-call random women and parents shouldn’t take a “boys will be boys” attitude when their sons show signs of disrespect for women. Breastfeeding women deserve protection from sexist abuse out of common decency, not because their boobs are “good” boobs being used for the purpose that nature intended. (Not sure if I’m making any sense here!)

    • Juana

      You’re absolutely making sense to me. Can’t upvote, so this is my upvote 🙂

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Entirely off topic, but has anyone seen this?

    http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/40/31/all-pet-anti-vaccination-movement-2017-08-04-bk.html

    Honestly, how do you even know if you dog is autistic?

    • Azuran

      It’s very easy, an autistic dog will have exactly the same signs as humans: They don’t talk, they avoid direct eye contact and are freaked out by loud noises.
      (I’m kidding, but you know many antivaxxers probably believe this)

      • Nick Sanders

        Also, repetitive and idiosyncratic behaviors, clinginess and becoming anxious or morose during even short separations, screaming when upset or stressed, and unusual methods of showing affection such as headbutting and licking.

        • Azuran

          And lets not forget how vaccine toxins accumulate for generations. Now a ‘dog generation’ is probably on average less than 5 years. The distemper vaccine, for example, was commercialized in 1950. So many dogs have probably accumulated over 10 generations of vaccine toxins and injuries.

          It’s obvious that selective breeding is a Big pharma cover up. Dogs are just vaccine injured autistic wolfs.

          • mabelcruet

            ‘Dogs are just vaccine injured autistic wolfs’

            Yep. And all cats are murdering, sadistic psychopaths. But they can be cured with breast milk.

          • mabelcruet

            ‘Dogs are just vaccine injured autistic wolfs’

            Yep. And all cats are murdering, sadistic psychopaths. But they can be cured with breast milk.

          • Charybdis

            Does it have to be straight from the tap or can you pump? *anxious*

        • BeatriceC

          So a bird. Autistics dogs are just birds with four legs and fur. And no wings.

          • Heidi_storage

            NO, Beatrice. Autistic dogs are not birds. Didn’t they teach you anything in your brainwashing public-school indoctrination? Autistic dinosaurs are birds.

          • BeatriceC

            Ohhhh. I went to catholic schools. The nuns weren’t up on science. I didn’t know!

            (Actually, I got a damned good education from those nuns. Some of the most kick ass women I’ve ever met. Except for my kindergarten teacher. I will always hate her with the fire of a thousand suns.)

          • Chi

            That just reminds me of when Plato gave Socrates definition of a man as a featherless biped.

            To which Diogenes brought in a plucked chicken and screamed “BEHOLD a man!”.

            Which shows that people have always had issues with taxonomy.

        • StephanieJR

          Replace screaming with thumping, and that’s rabbits. And dogs. And cats. And birds. And probably reptiles.

          Not much to this diagnosis lark, is there?

      • Seeing Clearly Media

        Pro-safe vaccines activists not anti-vaxxers.

        Safe immunization is what I and others want.

        If a vaccine causes autism even if vaccines caused blue etes I would worry that doesn’t mean I think blue eyes are bad however vaccines shouldn’t be linked to blue eyes.

        I will clarify I do believe autism is bad and that vaccines shouldn’t cause autism and they wouldn’t if they where made and implemented safely and responsibly.

        • Kerlyssa

          if believing made things true, we’d live in a very different world. your beliefs about vaccines do not affect the actual efficacy of vaccines one jot or tittle

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            I agree, there is an absolute truth and when data and research finds that vaccines are dangerous we need to respect the findings not trash them and call them a fraud.

          • Azuran

            Except that there is no reliable data that shows that vaccines are dangerous and cause autism.
            The ‘absolute truth’ is that vaccines are scientifically proven to be safe and to not be related in any way to autism.
            You are the one who is refusing to respect the findings

          • Nick Sanders
        • Azuran

          Oh, look who’s back.
          Kid, you are 10 years too early to try and teach me anything about vaccines. At the very least, come back when you’ll have finished high school.

          Vaccines don’t cause autism.

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            First of all it is not relevant if I finished high school or what my age is because I do research and rationalizing on my own time.

            Your talking points are ignorant, you need to disclose your conflicts of interest such as who pays you, what are your values and experience.

            Are you part of the disability pride and or autism acceptance movement in that case your opinion is not valid because you don’t even acknowledge disability/ injury induced disabilities are bad.

          • Azuran

            Well, apparently your age and education does matter, because you are just rambling incoherently like a child. You obliviously don’t even know how to research anything properly.
            I do not have any conflict of interest nor am I part of any pride movement of any kind.
            My value and experiences? I’m a veterinarian. Which is why I can tell you with appropriate confidence that vaccines don’t cause dog autism. And that I know much more than you about the genetic relationship between dogs and wolfs.
            As for who pays me. My boss, who is also a vet, pays me for working as a vet. That’s it.

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            I research by exposing myself to everything I go to places that disagree with me sometimes even more than places that agree with me this place being one example.

            I research I rationalize and I am not afraid to be outspoken about my conclusion, even if it is unpopular and will bring hatred towards me, I stand for truth and what I see is not what I am told I have to see and I see that vaccines are not safe and have to be given responsibly meaning to healthy and older people over a longer period of time.

            And dogs are not as complex as humans, therefore vaccines are safe for dogs but can be bad for humans.

            I think I can safely say I know how to research.

          • momofone

            Please link us to your research. I would love to read it.

          • Nick Sanders

            I research by exposing myself to everything I go to places that disagree with me sometimes even more than places that agree with me this place being one example.

            That’s not research. Doubly so since you clearly don’t do it with an open mind.

          • Azuran

            keeping you mind closed as you pretend to listen to people with opposing views is not research.

            Please share your studies of the difference in ‘complexity’ between humans and dogs which makes vaccines safe for dogs but not human. (which isn’t even true, dogs can have basically the same adverse effects to vaccines as humans)

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            you doctors and your totally not important education! What do you know?

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            My age is irrelevant and my education is truth and reality.

          • Azuran

            Truth and reality: Vaccines are the safest medical tool we have and they do not cause autism.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Few people your age have seen more than a couple facets of “reality”.

          • Nick Sanders

            Your privileged little but hasn’t even been in the real world yet, so stop telling those of us with actual educations and experience living with disabilities what the hell we should be thinking and feeling about our lives. Until you do, you’re just a stuck up little twerp who needs to grow up instead of yelling that they are already “mature”.

          • Mishimoo

            He’s so mature that he’s upvoting his own comments.

          • Poogles

            “My age is irrelevant and my education is truth and reality.”

            LMAO! Spoken like a true teenager with little to no experience.

          • namaste863

            Look, most of us on this blog are scientists, either phyical scientists or behavioral scientists such as myself. Trust me when I tell you the type of research we are discussing here is not combing the internet or your favorite blogs. It is a specialized, highly rigorous and very carefully designed process that takes, at the barest of bare minimums, several courses in statistics and research methods to master, often at the graduate or postgraduate level of study. We are talking about the difference between a pick up game of football in the park vs. playing for the New England Patriots.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Your level of education *does* matter. You do not have enough to work at a bank, never mind a science field. They required a high school diploma or GED when last I checked. But here you are, trying to school people who have, every one of us regulars, had more science than you, since we’ve all graduated high school and I think college, and most liberal arts educations require a college science class or two. I’ve had 8, since I was a chem major for a bit.
            Many of us are disabled and by God, of course we want acceptance! Perhaps there will be a day when my deaf ear will be cured, but in the mean time, I’d like to be accepted in society. Or perhaps you’d like to be a pariah for an indefinite timeframe?

          • Heidi_storage

            A) No one pays the commenters.

            B) Education level wouldn’t matter if you were using properly-sourced facts to bolster coherent arguments. If a PhD says the sun revolves around the Earth, a middle-schooler can prove him wrong by supplying data from NASA’s web sites. But you have not offered factual support for your arguments, instead choosing vague, bombastic rhetoric to make your points.

            C) Should you try to remedy your lack of supporting evidence, before you cite something be reasonably sure that it’s a source we will accept. Articles from NaturalNews, Mercola, and whale.to are a no-go. Research articles and systematic reviews indexed in PubMed aren’t infallible, but they’re a good start. But:

            D) Before you claim an article says anything, be very sure that you are correct in what it says. This is where more education will benefit you. The reason is that abstracts and “Discussion” lines don’t always accurately reflect what the data are actually saying, or will not give you a good idea of how meaningful and generalizable the results are.

            For instance, let’s say you’re talking about an article that shows that curcumin (found in turmeric) has anti-cancer activity. Well, you need to know that the study was done on cells in a test-tube, not in people, and that this is very important because in people curcumin has lousy bioavailability (we can’t really use it). NaturalNews reports something like, “Turmeric fights cancer! But Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about it!” when really, their conclusion is drawn from not knowing why curcumin isn’t used in cancer.

            Finally, please note that, in addition the wide variety of credentials and experience earned by many of the commenters, they have seen many, many arguments in favor of the vaccines-cause-autism theory and have not been convinced. It is highly unlikely that you will present something new that will cause them to reevaluate their position–not because they’re committed to an ideology of Vaccines Are Good, but simply because the weight of evidence is so strongly in favor of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

            If you wish to continue debating vaccine safety, as a first step you might take a look at some past threads on this topic. Note the arguments, the sources, the rebuttals, the rhetorical tactics used, and think to yourself how you could improve upon them.

        • CSN0116

          Autism is bad, mmmmmmmkay?

        • Roadstergal

          Oh, hey, it’s back! Ready to define that word ‘biomarker’ that you’re so fond of?

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            Using kid as an insult is very shameful, often kids are more mature than adults because after all kids don’t smoke or cuss or start wars or are racist and kids often have more common sense.

            This is not because adults are bad, this is because adults make bad choices and so do kids this just shows age doesn’t equal knowledge or maturity.

          • Azuran

            On average, adults are more mature than kids. Some kids are more mature than some adults. But obviously, you are not one of them.

            Someone who has to say ‘I am mature’ is not mature.

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            Excuse me, I am saying I am mature and backing it up with facts, do I cuss? Do I spam like that random guy talking about rabbit facts trolling me? I think it is safe to say I am mature.

          • Azuran

            Cussing isn’t in any way a measure of maturity.
            I have yet to see you post any scientific paper supporting anything you have said, so you have not backed anything up with facts.
            And yes, you parachuting here to whine about stuff no one was talking about could be characterized as trolling.

            Again: yelling ‘I am mature’ is a clear sign of immaturity.

          • momofone

            Maturity has nothing to do with cussing, or having tattoos, or drinking alcohol, or smoking, or any of the other arbitrary measures you’ve attempted to employ to bolster your maturity argument. Part of maturity is knowing your audience and being able to engage in rational discussion with them. In this case–the comment section on this blog–the commenters are adults, many of whom have specialized knowledge in various areas of scientific study. That means that part of mature discussion here requires knowing the limits of your own knowledge and being able and willing to support your claims with reputable sources. You have demonstrated none of those things. And as Azuran pointed out, when you have to continue to insist on your own maturity, it clearly does not exist.

          • momofone

            You also think it’s safe to say that vaccines cause autism, and that it’s reasonable to display your indefensible views about people with disabilities. Your maturity claim carries just as much weight.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Swearing is not a measure of maturity.

          • Roadstergal

            Damn skippy. :p

          • kfunk937

            OTOH, an argument can be made for swearing with skill, élan, inventiveness, aplomb, and alacrity.

            Some are called to greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them. No matter which, it takes time.
            ;-P

          • Heidi_storage

            “I am a very mature person” is about as convincing as “I am a very humble person.”

          • Charybdis

            Cussing is NOT a sign of immaturity. It is, however, a sign of anger, frustration and often used for it’s “shock value” to convey a great deal of anger, upset, frustration, pain, etc.

          • StephanieJR

            I’m a girl, and very happy to keep trolling you!

          • Heidi_storage

            Please note that many of the negative virtues you’ve ascribed to children are actually reflections of their limited capacity; children don’t start wars because (adult) people generally aren’t stupid enough to hand them that power. But little kids, although possessing a rudimentary sense of justice and helpfulness, are selfish little sociopaths–even the very best of them. They simply haven’t developed enough in some areas to be able to feel empathy, nor experience enough to understand the consequences of their actions. (Also, I’m sorry to say that many children smoke, cuss, or espouse racist views.)

          • Azuran

            How would a kid even start a war? To start a war you need power. Kids are not handed the kind of power necessary to start wars.

          • kfunk937

            Wandering far afield here, but dying young enough along with most all the other heirs has been known to at least contribute to starting wars (see for instance, the White Ship). Ultimately it still takes adults to kick off the war and sustain it, though.

          • Roadstergal

            So, no, you have no idea what the word ‘biomarker’ means, even though you used it the other day. Shouldn’t you know what words mean before you use them?

            (BTW, I never called you a kid. I mean, you are, it’s an accurate term, but I never used it. Your reading comprehension needs work.)

          • kfunk937

            Unless he fixed it afterward, in one comment he also used “bookmaker”.

            I’m not at all convinced that autocorrect was to blame.

        • Heidi_storage

          You should be delighted, then, to learn that vaccines are very safe and do not cause autism.

        • namaste863

          Kid, they don’t cause autism. Full stop. That theory is based on a single study published by a doctor who misrepresented the medical histories of his 12 (12! That sample size is so small as to be laughable) subjects. Why did he fudge the data? Because he was recruited to generate that study by an attorney who was hoping to jump-start a class action suit against the pharmaceutical industry. Not only that, but he had a patent in the works for his OWN formula for the MMR vaccine, which he planned to market as a safer alternative. The whole thing was a scam designed to pad his and a few allies’ bank accounts. Ultimately he was stripped of his medical license. The name is Andrew Wakefield. Look him up. Hundreds if not thousands of subsequent studies has all but definitively demonstrated no link whatsoever between vaccines and autism.

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            Don’t think I don’t notice that you are trying to belittle me and discredit me and dehumanize me it is apparent by referring to me as a kid.

            Let’s put it this way, kids can be adults and adult kids as you know Trump is like a child and I think a child might actually do a better job than Trump.

            So call me kid, it only makes you look bad because if I am a kid wow, I must have the maturity of an adult I am ahead of schedule.

            What you said has little meaning as you are already trying to bash me instead of working with me and rationalizing with me and accepting the outcome this includes admitting when you are wrong.

          • Azuran

            So, calling you a ‘kid’ is dehumanizing you?

            There was nothing in her comment that was bashing you. It was a very well written explanation of how and why wakefield did a fraudulent and not statistically significant study.
            Yet, you accuse her of not trying to be rational. So much for your maturity.

          • Charybdis

            Sure it is, Azuran. A kid is a baby goat, so of COURSE calling “Seeing Clearly” a kid is dehumanizing./sarcasm.
            However, the kid (Seeing Clearly) certainly is doing a bang-up job dehumanizing his/herself by shooting off its mouth.

          • namaste863

            A) You are a kid. It’s a simple statement of fact.
            B) I in no way, shape, or form attacked you personally. In my entire post, there was ONE word about you. Every other word I wrote was factual information about the history of that study, Andrew Wakefield, and how and why it was falsified. Feel free to confirm it for yourself. That isn’t bashing. That is called discourse. Unless by bashing you mean “Oh no, mean Namaste told me something I don’t want to hear.”

          • namaste863

            Oh, and speaking of dehumanizing, you know that load of nonsense you spouted about ADHD? Well, guess who has ADHD? Me! And guess who isn’t the least bit ashamed of it, because she lives a very full, productive, active life? That’s right, me again!!! So who is dehumanizing whom, here?

          • CSN0116

            You have not presented a single scientific study to prove your claim. Do it. Burdon of proof is on you. You made a claim.

            Can you access scientific studies? Get behind paywalls? Can you interpret them?

            Prove it.

          • Heidi_storage

            These days, a lot of original research isn’t behind a paywall, as long as it’s older than a year or so. Doesn’t count systematic reviews, though.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Calling a high schooler a kid is no more belittling than calling a female greyhound a bitch. Even if you are morally and philosophically superior to everyone else here, which I doubt, you are still a kid.

            For every LeBron James (who’s a very good basketball player), there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of high school stars who later find out they’re really not that extraordinary. I know you perceive yourself to be a young LeBron or Mozart here, but we’re hearing the voice of so many oh-so-confident, know-it-all teens we’ve known who it later turned out weren’t quite so correct as they had believed.

            You show little empathy for those of us with disabilities and you deny the actual science in favor of whatever odd things you’ve been reading about on the internet. That is why we mock you. We’ve actually pulled a bit of our punch because you are clearly much younger than the usual anti-vaxxer nut who wanders in trying to school us.
            Why don’t you work for Habitat for Humanity or candystripe at your local hospital or help in a community garden? My 3 year old does that. My church turned the front yard into a garden and we grow and pick vegetables for our soup kitchen and pantry give-aways. 3yo helps dig up small weeds, pick tomatos, carry weeds to the compost bin, and water.

          • Namaste863

            Empress, I never remember to ask: are you a Sign Language user? I study ASL in my (limited) spare time.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Not really, my Sign is about as strong as my Spanish; a few random words.
            I have one totally deaf ear and one ear that is “normal”, so I’m really in a limbo sort of place where people sometimes label me as disabled and sometimes don’t. As one of my teaching mentors once said “i didn’t notice your hearing impairment until [the first time I lead a class].” I’m *very* good at intuiting what people said if I know their voice or am thoroughly familiar with their accent, even with some background noise.
            That chit probably thinks disability is black and white, like that fool in my dorm who thought Demodocus wasn’t blind because he didn’t always use his cane when walking about. I saw him appologize to enough puddles to know that he’s navigating by contrasts, not by seeing as we do.

          • Heidi_storage

            Would you consider it offensive if I were to giggle at the image conjured by your last sentence?

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            lol, not in the least. His mean girlfriend laughed at him too 😉 Still married me anyway

          • StephanieJR

            Congratulations, you came back, and so have I, with more Rabbit Facts!

            (I’ll only post one a day, so I don’t clog up the feed this time)

            Did you know that rabbits can have various uses, from meat to fur/wool, and, in more recent years, as therapy animals? It’s true; there is a small but growing population of bunnies bringing comfort to people.

            Due to being prey creatures, rabbits are generally docile and gentle (though many come with a sassy diva streak!), which can be more reassuring than a dog or cat. They don’t make loud noises and entertain many a person (sick, disabled, and, dare I say, autistic included) with their sweet and calm dispositions.

            Which proves that a trained rabbit is a far better contributor to society than you! They are kinder and more loving than you seem to be, accepting to all and judgemental to none.

            Shoo, pest, and find something better to do.

          • Seeing Clearly Media

            First all, this is not a trade off situation where it is you vs the herd when it comes to taking a vaccine because it turns out that if vaccines were safe there wouldn’t need to be conflicts if interest and liability protection against lawsuits.
            Keep in mind this pope, although not the only pope routinely crosses the line and said many anti-christian and even anti-Catholic things such as supporting population reduction, aka depopulation by limiting the amount of children you should have, which I find to be disgusting on many fronts.
            Instead of looking for ways to sustain a bigger population, we are looking for ways to reduce the population this is how backwards people are.
            Moving on, it is important to keep in mind that vaccines can and are covertly being weaponized however, vaccines themselves were not invented to be weapons but rather an immunization tool to end infectious diseases.
            We have to identify what is causing injury to people who take a vaccine, perhaps maybe it is the preservatives or maybe it is the “weakened” virus itself.
            In the case of it being the preservatives, there are developing a taps like patch you can put on your skin to be exposed to some version of the virus and immunize yourself, however, if it is the virus or bacteria itself that is the cause of vaccine injury then this is going to be no different.
            We will do well to realize that vaccines like many other things are created with good intentions, however, later on down the road they get perverted for example, if vaccines were meant to immunize now they are used to cause illness the exact opposite of the intentions its original inventor had.
            In regards to “if you cant trigger an immune response you appear not to be ill” I want to point to more examples of this case scenario, Lets start with ADHD you can’t focus because your mind is not healthy enough and you are hyperactive without having much control over it and instead of testing for what might be causing you behavior weather medical or phycological or behavioral what do they do they screen you for ADHD a label that isn’t backed up by anything but a check list of symptoms and they drug you up to give the illusion that you are having treatment and that it is working when what they are really doing is killing your brain which is trying to respond by displaying ADHD behaviors to let you know something is wrong somewhere and what do you do you silence that response.
            An easier example to understand of the above is someone getting injured and is crying for help and instead of asking what happened and getting them the help that they need you put tape on their mouth to silence and suppress their response how absurd is that.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Honey, pro-safe vaccine essentially means anti-vaxxer. Vaccines are among the safest things you can give your (as yet imaginary) children. Are they 100% safe, no, but they’re about as close as you can get. My very real children are healthy, happy, bright, and not blinded by German measles like their father.

          No vaccine causes Autism. They’ve done thousands of studies, and none but Wakefield’s retracted study find any link. Nor do they cause autoimmune diseases.

          Kiddo, you need to take more science. A lot more. .

        • Charybdis

          Vaccines DON’T cause autism. Let’s try that in a number of different ways.

          French: Les vaccins ne causent l’autisme.

          German: Impfstoffe verursachen Autismus keine
          .
          Spanish: Las vacunas no causan autism.

          Norwegian: Vaksiner forårsaker ikke autism.

          Polish: Szczepionki nie powoduja autyzmu.

          Morse Code: …- .- -.-. -.-. .. -. . … -.. — -. .—-. – -.-. .- ..- … . .- ..- – .. … —

          I’ll even say it slower and louder for you: VACCINES. DON’T. CAUSE. AUTISM.

          Now you.
          .

          • Azuran

            Just saying, in french you have to say it: Les vaccins ne causent pas l’autisme. 😉

          • Charybdis

            Sorry. My French is a little rusty and I was using a translator for the other languages.
            Although I seriously doubt SCM knows other languages.

          • Roadstergal

            Yeah, the German is a little off, but I doubt he’d know. 🙂

          • kfunk937

            Ditto on the español (in Spanish, it’s “el autismo”).

            G__gle translate, doesn’t… although it has its uses. You got yer point across nonetheless, and nicely done, too.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        I must admit, the dogs haven’t said a word since their last rabies vaccine.

    • Seeing Clearly Media

      Hello all, Let me clarify, dogs are not “autistic wolf”. Dogs are another species or form of creature, Dogs are born from dog parents dogs are not mutated worth dogs are born from parents that are similar to its offspring under normal circumstances, when not exposed to any toxins of any kind so his all dogs have ADHD and all cats have aspergers syndrome it’s a bunch of baloney because in dogs this behavior is normal, this is how dogs and cats are supposed to behave when they’re healthy, this is not to say humans when they are healthy should behave like this because humans have bigger standards than dogs and cats or any other animal. Humans talk and build and use technology and all that stuff.

      More on this: http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/geoengineering-watch-global-alert-news-july-29-2017/#comment-665572

      • Azuran

        Kid, no one needed your clarification. Because everyone here knew I was being sarcastic and making a joke.
        Jesus, you really need to get out more.

        • Seeing Clearly Media

          I am out here facing all this hatred to spread truth and morals aka common sense.

          Disability is a bad thing, the DSM is deceptive, if vaccines are dangerous we make them safe or we figure out ways not to rely on them.

          What is wrong with what I am saying? More like what is right about what I am saying that brings so much hatred to the truth.

          Respond to the light and continue to belittle me and bash me.

          • Azuran

            My god you have a victim complex.

          • Who?

            Is that burning martyr I smell?

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Go away, youngster, and find some local volunteering to give meaning to your life. We don’t hate you; that would be investing too much into your words. You, however, seem to hate that those of us who’re disabled don’t spend all day bemoaning our respecitive disabilities or go chasing every nostrom and faith healer we hear about.

          • Mishimoo

            You’re not a martyr, you’re simply here trying to get free advertising for your youtube channel.

          • Heidi_storage

            “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not overcome it”? Isn’t that a little…grandiose?

            (The quote refers to Jesus.)

        • kfunk937

          Isn’t Jebus part the problem here?

          (No offence intended to believers. I just seem to recall mention of homeschooling, with hyper-religious, not to mention creationist, overtones. Among other red flags.)

          You’re right. He really does need to get out more.

          • Azuran

            If anything, I think he’s probably on the spectrum or has some kind of disability himself that his super religious parents refused to accept and spent his whole life trying to cure.

            Normal teenagers don’t nurse such a overwhelming disgust of those with disabilities and start anti-autism youtube channels. It’s just sad, really.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            it would fit

          • Nick Sanders

            Wait, there’s a youtube channel now?

          • Azuran

            Indeed there is. But it’s basically just silent video showing texts. I got bored after 20 seconds, it’s not even worth going for a laugh. And he’s handling the comment section pretty much like he is doing here.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Actually, it’s not really clear that wolves and dogs are separate species, given that they can interbreed.

        Cats can’t have asperger syndrome since AS implies a normal linguistic ability.

        And your comment is essentially incoherent.

    • StephanieJR

      And here’s me getting rather anxious about needing a rare/expensive vaccine for my bunny, against a new, more deadly strain of an already horrible disease (which she is vaxxed for, thank goodness), when these irresponsible assholes are being utter twits and leaving their supposedly beloved animals open to infection.

      Plus, they’re not only endangering their poor pets, but what if rabies starts to spread? Rabies is fucking terrifyingly.

  • SporkParade

    Lactivists: “Breastfeeding prevents malnutrition.”
    The Bible: “Children and babies (the word for babies is literally ‘those who suckle’) faint [from hunger] in the streets of the city.”

  • Casual Verbosity

    I have to hand it to them, they have targeted their audience well. The breastfeeding as environmentally-friendly claim is playing right into the egos of much of the crunchy-crowd. Not only that, environmentalism is a subject that everyone can get behind. No one can publicly argue against environmentalism without being subject to intense scrutiny (even though environmentalism at the individual level isn’t even a blip on the radar of climate change). Anyone who supports a choice that is ostensibly ever so slightly worse for the environment is perceived as a fair target for shaming. Furthermore, anything that is claimed to be ‘green’ automatically becomes an inherent moral good. That is clever marketing.

    There’s a show in Australia called ‘Gruen’ (formerly ‘The Gruen Transfer’), which deconstructs marketing by corporations, governments, NGOs. I would love to see them do an episode on the marketing of breastfeeding. My only concern is that as all the guests are experts in marketing and not biology, that the equivalence between breast-milk and formula in developed nations would probably not factor into the conversation. Still it would be curious to see what the experts think about the marketing of the boobie-juice.

    • Gæst

      And it works. I have intense guilt over various environmentally unfriendly lifestyle habits/choices of mine. But when I think about what it would take to do everything “right,” I want to cry. It’s a lot of extra work, not to mention monetary cost. Even just what seems like the first step, recycling, can be a huge burden. My area doesn’t have single-stream recycling, so I have to have separate bins for trash, plastic & metal, and paper. But we live in a tiny apartment, so this means more frequent trips to different parts of the building, because the receptacles have to be smaller to fit in our space. We also have organics composting, which would be another container with another cycle of emptying in yet another location in the building if we participated. Then there’s electronics recycling – about twice a year they have drop-off points that are conveniently located, but there’s nothing in between those events so you can have stuff piling up (hopefully not, but sometimes you have a bad year, electronics-failure-wise). And hazardous waste disposal is again another event. My apartment is always full of stuff piled up waiting for proper disposal, and I hate it – we don’t have an out-of-the-way storage area for this. And then I was supposed to use cloth diapers instead of disposables? With twins? And no washer/dryer in the apartment?

      It gets exhausting. I do somethings, but I would get fired from my job if I focused on home environmentalism all the time.

  • Toni35

    I recently had a stomach bug that left me a quivering mass curled up in bed (between trips to the porcelain throne) for three days. I didn’t nurse my nearly two year old daughter during that time. Thankfully my mom is visiting and someone was able to care for my children so my husband didn’t have to take time off work.

    Anywho, the interesting thing is that I didn’t experience any engorgement, or even fullness, in my breasts while I was I’ll. And I was able to keep down water and small amounts of broth, toast, applesauce, and bananas (thankfully my stomach bug was more of the diarrhea variety than the vomiting variety, sorry tmi). Seems when you are barely getting enough calories to sustain yourself, lactation tends to slow/cease.

    Now my short lived “malnutrition” was over in a few days and once I was back to a normal diet my supply came back, but I cannot imagine what women who are chronically malnourished do. You can’t make something from nothing and our bodies prioritize. It’s more important to keep mom alive than it is to lactate. You want to prevent malnutrition, you get food to people who need it. Including babies who need formula because their mothers are starving.

  • Mel

    My master’s research area is connected to sustainable agriculture.

    Tagging breastmilk as more sustainable as formula is one hell of a stretch without a lot of math to support it. The largest areas of waste in food production in the US are in transportation of food from stores to consumers, food wasted by spoiling at home and energy used to store/prepare food products at home. Farmers and food manufacturers are continually working at minimizing waste of energy and product since that cuts into profits immediately; the average consumer…..is not as highly motivated.

    Breastmilk and formula are a wash in terms of transportation from store to consumers; breastfeeding women buy food while formula feeding women buy food and formula at stores.

    Both breastmilk and formula are wasted in small amounts. Breastmilk does have a slightly higher chance of being wasted due to errors in storage – like defrosting too much milk at once – than accidentally making too much formula.

    Formula wins in terms of energy use in preparation and storage compared to any form of breast milk storage. Powdered formula and unopened liquid formula are shelf-stable. Powdered formula takes a small amount of heat to warm water – but so does reheating breast milk from a stash. A breast milk stash requires some percentage of energy used in a refrigerator and a freezer.

    • Gæst

      I suppose in theory, there would be less pollution from trucking the formula from the factor to the store where you buy it. But that’s true of literally any consumer product not sold where it was made/grown, so picking on formula rather than mascara or whatever seems pointless.

    • Steph858

      And of course, the maths would need to take into account the extra food a breastfeeding mother will need. Since breastfeeding mothers (well, everyone really, but new mums in particular) are encouraged to eat a healthy diet full of fruit and veg, I’m guessing the waste and spoilage of all those short-shelf-life greens will be a lot higher than the wastage of formula.

  • crazy grad mama

    One of my relatives just added an overlay reading “I support breastfeeding!” to her social media profile picture. I’m not going to leave a snarky comment on her page, but I so want to.

    Same person also recently announced that she’s training to be an IBCLC. On the one hand, I suppose that’s better than someone calling themselves a lactation consultant without any training. On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of lactivist pseudoscience promoted under the guise of certification.

    • Zornorph

      You should post a picture of a push-up bra under it saying ‘I support breasts!’

    • BeatriceC

      The Fed Is Best Foundation now has a Facebook overlay that says “I support safe infant feeding”.

  • CSN0116

    Theoretically speaking, if all the world had access to clean water and affordable formula wouldn’t many more of the babies live and thrive than if they were EBF?

    Where is the campaign for 100% clean water access? Ever hear of the Slingshot? A water purification system designed to take a filthy puddle and transform it into drinkable water. It can do hundreds of gallons per day with a retail price of a couple grand. It can be fueled by cow dung. The creator literally could not get anyone interested and could not get it disseminated throughout developing countries. How? Why?

  • Megan

    Well they have the correlation between prosperity and breastfeeding correct but breastfeeding doesn’t increase prosperity. Prosperity increases breastfeeding.

    • Valerie

      I’m not sure if that’s true outside of countries like the US where breastfeeding is more accessible to wealthier families. In some parts of the world, there is a correlation between exclusive breastfeeding and poverty (because they lack access to formula, even if they have low supply).

      • Sarah

        Yes, it depends on the wealth of the country concerned.

  • Azuran

    It’s incredible how there is a huge push for more individualized and personal care in medicine and healthcare. But not for breastmilk. Exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months is THE way to go for everyone, everywhere, all the time.

    Setting a goal at 100% for anything is unreasonable and unattainable.

    • JDM

      Well, 100% fed would be a good one.

      But with that caveat, excellent point.

      • Azuran

        It would be awesome if everyone had access to enough nutritionally complete food and clean water. And we absolutely should aim to provide those to a maximum of people. But realistically, we will never reach 100% on the entire planet.

    • Sarah

      It’s not that incredible. Breastfeeding is a woman thing, whereas individualized and personal healthcare concerns men. Standard.