5 lies the AAP told me about breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released guidelines promoting breastfeeding each child for two years — despite the fact that there is NO scientific evidence for the recommendation.

How did that happen? When you let lactivist zealots make breastfeeding policy, you end up with breastfeeding policies that ignore scientific evidence in favor of lactivists’ cherished beliefs.

Case in point: the AAP’s attempt to explain the unsupported recommendations to laypeople on its website, Breastfeeding: AAP Policy Explained. It’s even worse than the execrable paper on which it is based.

The paper, Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, is filled with weasel words like “might,” “associated,” and “linked.” Yes, breastfeeding is “linked” with good outcomes. Better educated, wealthier women are far more likely to breastfeed. It is the higher socio-economic status, including greater access to health insurance and healthcare, that is responsible for the improved health outcomes “associated with” and “linked to” breastfeeding, NOT breastfeeding itself.

The information for laypeople replaces the weasel words — which at least acknowledge the lack of proof for causation — with words that imply causation. In other words, the AAP lies in order to manipulate women into breastfeeding or breastfeeding longer. And the lies aren’t minor; they’re egregious.

#1 The Lifesaving Lie

“Breastfeeding can reduce … up to 40% overall infant deaths.”

This is a bald-faced LIE. I don’t believe this is even true in places where access to clean water is problematic, let alone in industrialized countries. At the moment, with the exception of extremely premature babies, there is NO evidence that breastfeeding saves ANY lives in industrialized countries. Indeed, as I’ve noted in the past, the United Kingdom has literally the LOWEST breastfeeding rate IN THE WORLD, yet one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

#2 The Disease Prevention Lie

“Breastfeeding can also help protect your baby against lower respiratory tract infections and severe or persistent diarrhea, asthma, eczema, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, leukemia, oral malocclusion and dental caries, while increasing IQ.”

This is another bald-faced lie. Breastfeeding is ASSOCIATED with these outcomes. There is ZERO evidence that breastfeeding causes them.

#3 The Nutritionally Complete Lie

“Breastmilk has all the nutrients, calories and fluids your baby needs!”

No, it doesn’t. It lacks both iron and vitamin D. That’s why vitamin supplements have been recommended for breastfed babies.

#4 The Bonding Lie

“Breastfeeding … helps create special bonds between you and your baby.”

This isn’t just a lie, its a particularly vicious one. There is NO evidence — zip, zero, nada — that breastfeeding has ANY impact on maternal infant bonding. Lactivist zealots simply made that up.

#5 The Misogynist Lie

“ Breastmilk … is free!”

Leaving aside for the moment the expenses associated with breastfeeding — lactation consultants, extra food, special bras, etc. — breastfeeding is only “free” if a woman’s time is worthless. And only misogynists think women’s time is worthless.

Those are not the only lies on the AAP page. There are a few other whoppers, including the claim that breastfeeding releases hormones that “promote healthy parenting behavior,” but those are the most egregious.

I’d be willing to bet that most members of the AAP don’t believe most of what is on this page. So why is it there? It’s there because the AAP, like most professional medical organizations, has left breastfeeding recommendations to the lactivist zealots among its members.

I’d be happy to publicly debate (in print or in person) the author of the AAP page, Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, on these 5 lies. I doubt that will ever happen because even the lactivist zealots are aware that they cannot possibly defend their lies against the lack of scientific evidence.

The bottom line is that the AAP has risked its credibility by giving an imprimatur to 5 particularly egregious lactivist lies. Don’t believe them. Breastfeeding is grest but its only one of two excellent ways to nourish babies. Mothers should make infant feeding decisions based on what is good for them and their babies, not the lies of lactivist zealots.

And the AAP ought to stop the lactivist zealots among its members from LYING about breastfeeding in its name!