Formula fed babies are overfed? Only if you redefine underfed as normal and normal as overfed!

Fact or Fake concept, Hand flip wood cube change the word, April fools day

Breastfeeding professionals are sure that breastfed infants are healthier than those who are formula fed.

There’s just one problem; they can’t find evidence to support that belief.

Countries with the lowest breastfeeding rates have the LOWEST infant mortality and countries with the highest infant mortality have the highest breastfeeding rates. Most of the claimed health benefits of breastfeeding have been debunked by studies that correct for the higher socio-economic status of women in industrialized countries who breastfeed. And although breastmilk can save the lives of extremely premature infants who face the deadly risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, breastfeeding professionals can’t point to the lives of any term babies who have been saved.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Calibrate infant growth charts to keep infants out of the hospital, well hydrated and not suffering brain injuries and deaths.[/pullquote]

To the horror of breastfeeding professionals, the scientific evidence shows that formula fed infants are equally healthy to breastfed infants.

What to do? Change the definition of healthy by altering infant growth charts!

That’s just what breastfeeding professionals have done and it’s working … sort of.

The headline from the BBC is typical, Too many babies overfed, experts fear.

It’s time to tackle over-eating from birth to make sure children get the best start in life, according to Public Health England.

It comes as government advisers publish new guidance – the first in more than 20 years – on feeding babies.

That report suggests three-quarters of UK babies and toddlers may be eating more calories than they should.
The same proportion weighed more than the ideal weight for their age, when plotted on growth charts.

The data comes from the Infant Feeding Survey and the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children carried out in 2010 and 2011.

It’s long been known that breastfed babies and formula fed babies grow differently.

According to the CDC:

The WHO growth charts establish the growth of the breastfed infant as the norm for growth. Healthy breastfed infants typically put on weight more slowly than formula fed infants in the first year of life. Formula fed infants gain weight more rapidly after about 3 months of age. Differences in weight patterns continue even after complementary foods are introduced.

Previous standards evaluated growth based predominantly on formula fed infants since most infants were formula fed at the time they were developed. Many breastfed infants were diagnosed as underweight using these charts. Breastfeeding advocates claimed that it was wrong to evaluate breastfed infants using formula fed infants as the standard.

They had a point, but it’s not clear that it was a valid one. It’s based on the assumption that every breastfed infant is fully fed when the reality is that breastfeeding has a significant failure rate and some breastfed babies are actually underfed. Far fewer babies receiving formula are underfed since they can eat until satiety instead of merely until the milk runs out.

The WHO charts purportedly show “how infants and children should grow rather than simply how they do grow.” But they don’t measure how infants “should” grow, they measure how breastfed infants, including underfed infants, grow. It’s a classic example of the naturalistic fallacy: if something is a certain way in nature, that’s how it ought to be.

This sleight of hand is only sort of working. Sure, it makes for great propaganda but it doesn’t change the fact that breastfed infants are suffering alarming rates of health problems due to insufficient breastmilk.

Breastfed infants are readmitted to the hospital at double the rate of formula fed infants. They are readmitted with hypernatremic dehydration, severe jaundice and hypoglycemia. In the US that translates to literally tens of thousands of hospital admissions each year at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Brain injuries due to insufficient breastmilk are rising and infants are dying. Additional hundreds of millions of dollars of liability payments are being made.

In other words, redefining underfeeding as normal doesn’t change the fact that many breastfed babies are suffering gnawing hunger, dehydration, brain injuries and deaths.

I have a better idea:

Calibrate infant growth charts to keep infants out of the hospital, well hydrated and not suffering brain injuries and deaths.

If we don’t, we will continue to sacrifice the health of tens of thousands of infants each year to breastfeeding professionals’ increasingly desperate efforts to make breast SEEM best.