These 3 graphs will make you question everything you’ve been told about breastfeeding


Below you will find the truth about infant formula and its impact on infant mortality, life expectancy and IQ as breastfeeding initiation fell from nearly 70% om 1910 to only 25-30% from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s and rose again to over 75% in recent years:



breastfeeding and IQ

As you can see, despite claims of spectacular theoretical benefits, in practice breastfeeding had no impact on infant mortality, life expectancy or IQ.

The next time anyone chastises you or attempts to make you feel guilty about formula feeding, show them this. And the next time you are inclined to beat yourself up about not breastfeeding, take a long look: in first world countries, the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial. Infant formula is an excellent, nutritious food source that provides a strong foundation for health, IQ and long life.



Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Healthier Mothers and Babies, MMWR October 01, 1999, 48(38);849-858.

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

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

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

126 Responses to “These 3 graphs will make you question everything you’ve been told about breastfeeding”

  1. sdsures
    April 3, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    How beneficial is colostrum vs just formula feeding from the very first feed? Is there any appreciable difference?

  2. Outi
    February 24, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    To the hardcore believers, this is still not going to be good enough. I feel that nothing is good enough. If it shows no benefit to breast feeding, then it’s bad science trying to ruin breast feeding. If it does show some benefit, then it’s good science and should be shared with everyone, no matter how flawed the method of research.
    Yeah, sometimes I get desperate after talking to lactivists.

  3. Allie P
    February 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    OT: Anatomy scan today was A-OK for the little banana. The doc turned to me at one point and said, “do you want to know the sex?” I was looking at the screen, where there was a picture perfect shot of the labia, and I said, “it’s a good thing we already know it’s a girl.”

    • Lauren
      February 24, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Congratulations!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      hee hee ‘little banana’, I like that.

      • sdsures
        April 3, 2015 at 11:13 am #

        I knew someone who called him/her a “jellybean”. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Roadstergal
    February 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    Similar graphs could be made with a variety of chronic diseases – asthma, IBD, IBS, etc. They’d all show increases in the period of time from the 70s to now when breastfeeding rates were on the increase.

    • Young CC Prof
      February 23, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      And the largest decreases in contagious disease during the period when breastfeeding was on the decrease.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 23, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

      …and autism…

      • Susan
        February 24, 2015 at 10:35 am #

        Yes, my first thought was correlation/causation joke ahead….

  5. Margo Townsend
    February 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Margo WooZealand…research BMJ Feb 2015, excellent thirty one pages re cognitive results, very interesting. I do believe breast feeding is best for first six months, but I do acknowledge that for us women it is not always possible and being made to feel guilty is not acceptable. It is useful, I believe, to remember that for those of us able to Breastfeed according to research confers upon us many benefits, other than those things addressed in the post. I think the post has over simplified the case for breast feeding or not. I think there is enough research around that has demonstrated the benefits of breast milk over formula for babies and the benefits of Breastfeeding for mothers. however, I say again, so as not to confuse anyone, no one should be made to feel bad if unable to or chooses not to Breastfeed.

    • SporkParade
      February 23, 2015 at 2:02 am #

      I try to think about all parenting decisions like this: Each parent/set of parents has a finite amount of resources (time, money, patience) to dedicate to their child/children. Therefore, it is up to each parent/set of parents to allocate those resources in the way that contributes best to the general happiness of the family. So breast milk is slightly better than formula all else being equal, but, for a particular family, the cost of breastfeeding may simply not be worth the benefits.

      • Cobalt
        February 23, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

        In some situations, families are definitely worse off trying to make breastfeeding work. Breastfeeding can be that expensive.

    • Sue
      February 23, 2015 at 2:54 am #

      As we’ve discussed here before, Margo, there’s more to it than that. The magnitude and duration of the benefits are small (in our wealthy societies – not talking abt impoverished societies).

      It’s not just that parents shouldn’t be made to feel guilty, but that there isn’t much difference in impact on children anyway.

    • Guesteleh
      February 23, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

      The research doesn’t justify a huge public investment in promoting breastfeeding. There are other interventions that have a much bigger impact for the same money. I want our healthcare dollars to be spent on something that actually counts.

    • sdsures
      April 2, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Capitalizing every instance of the word “Breastfeeding” when it’s not the first word in the sentence – your agenda is showing.

  6. Bugsy
    February 22, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    Great info. However, I have no doubt we’ll see some trolls later this week who state that the data in the graphs are false…

  7. Cobalt
    February 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    I’m honestly a little surprised initiation rates are upwards of 70%. At that point, lactivists need to just shut up. The message has obviously been heard, most women are willing to try breastfeeding. If mothers stop because it’s not working out, then that’s their prerogative to choose what works best for them.

    There is certainly no evidence to justify all this drama.

    • February 22, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

      For my future children, I plan on having a selective c-section and formula feeding. That’s for children who aren’t even in my immediate future and I’m already dreading the chewing out these choices will earn me.

      • Cobalt
        February 22, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

        I think it’s reasonable to ask women to consider breastfeeding, just so they are aware of it as an option and know the basics of how it works, what to expect, and what help might be available. For some families, it really works out better than buying formula. It’s an option that shouldn’t be ignored.

        After that, it’s completely free choice if a woman wants to try it or to continue for any length of time. If you have already given the choice whatever amount of scrutiny you’re comfortable with, and feel like it’s not for you, then that’s the end of the discussion. To badger women about it is rude at the absolute best.

        • Lauren
          February 23, 2015 at 8:17 am #

          I understand what you’re trying to say here, but just think about it from the other side.
          We have breasts, WE KNOW it’s an option.
          We just don’t want to.
          I don’t think anyone needs to say anything, period. It’s no one’s business how I feed my baby.
          My OB is amazing. I told her we were going to exclusively formula feed and all she said was “excellent, I’ll make sure we have it all set up for you”.

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 9:04 am #

            Knowing it’s an option and knowing it might be a viable option are different. I’m all for swinging the pendulum back from the current inane push to make women breastfeed, just also aware there was a push to make women formula feed in the past. The pushing has got to stop. Feeding a baby should not be fraught with social peril.

            The choice should be made by the person with the breasts, with accurate information of potential benefits and costs, and no artificial inflation of the costs by shaming women who make the “wrong” choice or ascribing totally bogus benefits to a particular method.

            LLL started because there was a need for it. They have since gone totally bonkers and become an organization that hurts a lot of mothers instead of just helping those that want the help, but there was a need for that help.

            If you don’t want it, that’s totally fine, and that decision should be respected and treated as just another of the hundreds of decisions you’ll make as a parent.

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

            I agree!
            What I was moaning about was even after you’ve made your decision clear and stated in a confident voice, “formula feeding is best for us’, THAT is when you get the “well you should at least THINK about breastfeeding” or “you should at least consider it as a good option” — implying heavily that this woman made a decision without even thinking at all. Just flippantly chose one over the other. Also, if the ‘benefits’ are negligible, why does it matter if a mother has ‘all’ the information? If she just isn’t comfortable with it, or just doesn’t want to, why should she HAVE to have all the detailed information about BFing foisted on her? If in the end it doesn’t matter, and it’s really, truly about choice, then the reasons for making that choice should not be scrutinized or categorized as ‘made with enough information’. Not pushing one or the other means not pushing information on anyone who doesn’t want it, AND making it readily available for anyone who does.

        • SporkParade
          February 23, 2015 at 9:05 am #

          But there also needs to be information on formula feeding! I found it incredibly frustrating that I was not only denied information on it after I specifically asked, but that it is nearly impossible to find information anywhere on how to successfully combo feed.

          • Bugsy
            February 23, 2015 at 10:22 am #

            Yes! I was too scared to even consider it nor to ask about it – La Leche League guidelines had frightened me so much that I was positive I would ruin my son with even a drop of formula.

          • Samantha06
            February 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

            That’s terrible.

          • MegaMechaMeg
            February 23, 2015 at 10:23 am #

            Combo feeding just sometimes seems the best thing ever. I have a friend who had I think the BEST system for feeding her kid. She nursed in the morning and before bed and the rest of the feeds were formula. She got two wonderful moments during the day of nursing and hormonal goodness and complete flexibility for the rest. No pumping at work, very little stress about her supply, and no worries that she was the only one who could feed the baby. If I could have a recipie for how to make that happen that would be awesome.

          • Ash
            February 23, 2015 at 10:53 am #

            I think it’s entirely possible that the overall number of women who partially or exclusively breastfeed in the USA would increase if there was more information about combination feeding. And isn’t that supposed to be the lactivism movement’s big goal?

            If Baby Friendly Hospitals are supposed to promote only exclusive BF and also are prohibited from offering childbirth prep classes about formula feeding, how are women supposed to learn about combo feeding?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

            I think it’s entirely possible that the overall number of women who
            partially or exclusively breastfeed in the USA would increase if there
            was more information about combination feeding. And isn’t that supposed
            to be the lactivism movement’s big goal?

            Of course not. Combo feeding, Ash? If you combo feed, they can’t include you in the EBF category! And that’s not good, no. That’s why you can’t allow 1 drop of formula EVER!!!!!

            I’m being sarcastic, of course. In fact, I’ve even pointed out the same thing. We’ve heard stories of women who have gone to great lengths to continue breastfeeding and have gone to combo feeding. Personally, I celebrate them as breastfeeding success stories. I mean, they continued to do some breastfeeding when it would have been real easy to throw in the towel.

            However, those who tell the stories relate how they have been criticized for giving up so soon and crap like that. It makes no sense to me.

          • Mariana Baca
            February 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

            Combo feeding makes the least financial sense to lactivists, however. Very few women would see a lactation consultant because I would gather most women can generate enough milk for a confort nurse once or twice a day provided most other nutrition came from a bottle, AND most women would not go crazy trying to pump and need the most advanced pumping equipment.

          • Young CC Prof
            February 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

            I’ve said the same thing myself. If the supposed breastfeeding authorities were more open to combination feeding, presented it as an option and provided information about how to make it work, the total amount of breast milk inside of babies would probably go up.

          • Amy M
            February 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

            They’re not. JUST ONE BOTTLE!!!

            I had intended to combo-feed, but it didn’t work out. It’s true that I never got any info about it, but its also true that I didn’t look really hard. Meh, formula was fine.

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

            I did something like that for one of mine. I nursed mornings and evenings, but she got formula during business hours. Basically whichever way was easier for each individual feeding. It worked out really well, and I wish I could repeat it with the current baby.

          • Dora
            February 25, 2015 at 11:47 am #

            That’s what I did after realizing that pumping at work was too unpleasant and stressful. Worked great for us. Weaned completely when my daughter started biting at age one. (Yes, I tried the recommended methods to get her to stop biting. Didn’t work.) I think combo feeding was a big factor in making weaning from the breast stress free for both of us.

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 10:28 am #

            Another area where lactivism is hurting mothers. Blind dedication to breastfeeding for the sake of breastfeeding making basic education on other choices hard to find.

          • Samantha06
            February 23, 2015 at 10:40 am #

            That really pisses me off when women have difficulty getting formula information at the hospital or otherwise. In some hospitals the only info given out is negative, and that really irritates me… I refuse to give that to mothersl!

          • KarenJJ
            February 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

            Same thing happened to me. It was crazy. It was so condescending to deny me information in case my feeble brain decided to not breastfeed any more.

          • SporkParade
            February 24, 2015 at 2:43 am #

            I was absolutely gobsmacked. “My job is to tell you to breastfeed.” Um, no. Your job is to be a goddamned medical professional and to give me the information I need to make healthy choices for my [clearly dehydrated] baby. In what other area of medicine is this even considered acceptable?!

          • Wren
            February 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

            My sister is currently trying to work out combo feeding. She works days, daddy works nights and they both need some sleep. Formula works better in that scenario than pumping. I wish there was somewhere I could send her for good combo feeding info.

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

            I can share what worked for me:

            I switched out one feed/pump at a time (but not consecutive pumps, I dropped the 9am, then dropped 3pm, then moved noon to 2pm, then dropped it) for formula, dropping one “business hours” feed per week. The nursing schedule had to be somewhat consistent day to day, and I needed formula on weekends most days at the same time of day as during the week. It was WAY better than pumping.

          • Wren
            February 23, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

            Thank you. I’ll pass that on. Both of her big sisters managed without formula for the most part (my son absolutely refused the breast from 9 months and I couldn’t start pumping enough then so I did combo feed, but all in bottles, for a few months). I was able to be at home full time and our other sister took 10 weeks of leave and had a great pumping set up at work.

          • Busbus
            March 2, 2015 at 10:40 am #

            Wren, like Cobalt, I’ll be happy to share what worked for me re: combo feeding. Basically, we made a schedule for the bottles that fit well with our life – initially, he got one before his first nap, when he was at daycare (later on, he got two at daycare), and one before bed, which meant that me and my husband could switch off bedtime between our two kids, which was nice. The rest of the time, when I was with my son, I breastfed on demand. That way, the bottles acted as a “meal schedule,” with on-demand breastfeeding fitted around those scheduled times as needed. I did keep up the bottle schedule even on the weekends, when I could have nursed more, so that we would keep the rhythm. My body adjusted to the timing after a week or two and I had milk when I was with my son, but wasn’t full other times (I didn’t pump).
            Maybe your sister could think about when she would like to nurse (be it just mornings/evenings, or maybe also during the night) and then develop a formula feeding schedule that fits well around those times? I know there is so little information out there on combo feeding, it’s awful! but I’m sure she’ll figure something out that works for her.

        • Daleth
          February 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

          “Just so women are aware of it as an option”?!? Do you really think any woman is UNAWARE that when she gives birth, her boobs will produce milk that her baby can drink?

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

            Breastfeeding is not as simple as that, and it is perfectly normal to not understand the logistics of how it could be a viable, sustainable, comfortable way to feed your baby. If all you know about breastfeeding is that super intense lactivists do it to earn platinum boobie badges and shame other mothers, then you’re not really aware of how it could fit into your life as a normal human being that’s just feeding a baby..

            To turn it around, do you really think any woman isn’t aware that she could just buy formula? That it’s just putting stuff in a bottle for the baby to drink?

            What women should have is factual information and support to make the choice that works for them and their families. No pressure, no bogus benefits, no false costs, just the freedom to make an educated choice.

          • Wren
            February 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

            I’d actually like to see a single information packet with info on breastfeeding, formula and combo feeding all in one place given to every pregnant woman. It’s unlikely to ever really happen though.

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

            It happens in some places, but it should be universal information. Also important is the cultural support for freedom of choice. As warm and fuzzy as feeding a baby can be, infant feeding choices should be boring.

        • Elaine
          February 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

          I feel like a lot of the objections or concerns that people state as to why they’re iffy about breastfeeding may not actually be issues and they just think that they are, or may be more easily manageable than they think–particularly if they are first-time moms. So I think there’s some merit to the general discussion of, well, here is how some people deal with that, I personally didn’t find it to be that big of a problem, etc.

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

            It can definitely be intimidating if it’s unfamiliar, and that’s true for any decision in parenting. That’s part of why it’s so important for questions to be welcomed, and those counseling new moms should be open, honest and supportive, not deranged ideologues. In the current climate, any mother within reach is clubbed over the head with “breast is best”, formula is treated like poison, and real-world logistical concerns are swept under the rug. It’s hard to have a realistic discussion because you always have to be “on guard”, you never know when you’ll be attacked for feeding your baby “wrong”.

            If help really was help, and not a mission for converts, moms that are curious but have no practical experience could get their questions answered. More mothers would have more options and less anxiety.

      • Lauren
        February 23, 2015 at 8:14 am #

        I am with you Annie! Due end of May and we are planned C-section and EFF all the way.
        And I find it extremely insulting when others frame things as ‘why don’t you just THINK about breastfeeding, NCB?’
        Because it’s my body and I do not want to. That’s it. There doesn’t have to be any other supporting choice — NOT when the science says it makes no difference for the baby.
        People do not give you even a modicum of this kind of hassle when you buy a house, buy a car, or choose a school for your child. No one is harassing you with “why don’t you just consider a mini-van? It’s a reasonable choice! It might make your life easier; you won’t know unless you try it!” No. You know what? I know what *I* need and what makes *MY* life easier.
        So quit insulting me with ‘just think about it’.

        • Kelly
          February 23, 2015 at 9:33 am #

          I have gotten that even though I have pumped for my two other children. I think by this time, I know what works for my family and what won’t. I have already tried. Why do I need to be miserable again trying? On another note, we have gotten harassed by many people on buying a house. It is not in our best interest right now. Why do people care so much about our decisions? We are happy with our life and we have very good reasons on both accounts on why we don’t want to do either. People need to butt out.

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

            Oooh yes – when are you getting married? When are you getting a house? When are you having kids?
            It seems like a never-ending succession of invasive questions! If it’s phrased, “are you thinking of buying a house?” it’s more a curious conversation, but “WHEN are you buying a house?? You SHOULD buy a house! Look at all this information I have on how to buy a house!” that they are treading into ‘none of your business’ territory.
            We haven’t even had our son yet and people are already demanding, “WHEN are you having another?!?!”
            Jesus poop – go find your own life to scrutinize.

          • Bugsy
            February 23, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

            Tell them that he was conceived after a struggle with infertility.

            My son’s an IVF kid, and as soon as people hear that, they give up asking me for regular updates. It’s one of the few positives of infertility.

          • Lauren
            February 24, 2015 at 8:59 am #

            Oh I’m so sorry you had to struggle through that! And congratulations on your little boy!

            We had two traumatizing miscarriages (one where the ER triage was partially negligent) and it’s been a very difficult struggle to get here (three months left!)
            Sometimes I will say things like “well with the heartache we’ve already endured….” and that usually at least gives them pause. If they can brush it off, at least I know they are completely insensitive and I should reevaluate the relationship (except when it’s family….oh that I could ‘unfriend’ some family members).
            If that doesn’t work, we can always say “well with my husbands brain cancer, the radiation and chemotherapy, and then the lengthy recovery, we just thought this would work better, thanks”

            THAT shuts most people up. If they have been particularly snotty (and a few have) when they mumble “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know” I MIGHT have said “I see. So you’re only a decent person who respects privacy and personal boundaries when that person is dying of cancer. The rest of the time you feel like it’s okay to pry, harass, and be aggressive with your views. No worries. You’re only a good person when there’s a reason. I get it.”

            Okay I did that twice. But we’re not friends anymore for the one, and the other was our snotty neighbour.

          • Bugsy
            February 24, 2015 at 10:39 am #

            Lauren, I’m so sorry to hear about your losses. I had an early miscarriage/chemical pregnancy during an IVF cycle a few months ago, and I can’t imagine the pain you’ve gone through.

            The thing that amuses me about these questions is that in what other world is it alright to ask someone how/when they’ll have sex again? Okay, it’s a little more subtle of a question…but the fundamental question is still the same: “When are you and your husband going to get busy!?” Yep, once again, no one else’s business.

            I think you have some good replies lined up, and it sounds like they’re doing a great job of showing you who really cares versus who has boundary issues. I’ve found that with our friends who know about the most recent IVF, they’re very cautious to ask out of care (and without prying). It’s wonderful to have non-prying support.

          • Amy M
            February 24, 2015 at 11:13 am #

            Not like for your losses, like for how you handled it. I’m sorry for your losses.

          • Amy M
            February 24, 2015 at 11:12 am #

            I have twin boys (via IVF), and when they were infants, lots of people asked if we were going to try for a girl. After a while we stopped getting that question, maybe because I usually answered with “Are you out of your mind?” Most of the people who asked were friends or family (who knew about the IVF), not total strangers.

        • Sarah
          February 23, 2015 at 11:54 am #

          Evidently you have thought about them, though. That’s how you know you don’t want to do either. So when anyone suggests you think about bf or vaginal birth, that’s not really what they mean, no? They actually mean you should do them, and should have the courage of their convictions and just say so, rather than dressing it up.

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

            It seems like phrasing it as ‘at least think about it!’ is less aggressive for them than ‘you really should just do it’. I suppose if they were to just own up to the convictions — which I have dealt with a lot when I was teaching a woo-tastic school — you have more reason to respond in kind, with conviction and assertion.

          • Roadstergal
            February 23, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

            I think their thought process is, “If you had _really_ thought about it, you would have gone the way I did, so you either dismissed the idea without adequate thought, or did not have access to all of the information I am just bursting to lay on you.”

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

            Just keep thinking about it and look at all this info I have until you see it my way.

          • Bugsy
            February 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

            The “do your research” mantra at its finest.

        • Samantha06
          February 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

          It IS insulting and it’s simply no one’s damn business either! What happened to appropriate boundaries? For some reason, some people seem to think it’s “OK” to ask personal questions when they hardly know someone, and especially to offer “advice” on childbirth, infant feeding and parenting!!

          • Bugsy
            February 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

            Boundaries go out the window if they can advise you on the “proper” way to parent. We saw this first-hand immediately after my son’s birth, when the mom of my crazy lactivist friend asked if we were having my son circumcised – “I just need to know, because I’m very much opposed to it.”

            WTF? No, you don’t get a say in my son’s private parts, thank you very much.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

            when the mom of my crazy lactivist friend asked

            So not even family, nor even a friend. A friend’s MOM needs to know?

            Yeah, I think not…

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

            As my hubby says “How the FUCK can she be ‘very opposed to it’?? She DOES NOT HAVE A PENIS. She has ZERO say. If anything, the kid’s dad should be head of this decision.”
            That is so far over the boundary of respecting basic privacy and decorum. I hope you told her off.

            P.S. we ask politely, ‘we are debating, do you mind telling us if your son is circumcised?’ Ultimately, hubby makes the call. I don’t have the equipment, I can’t say what is better, and health-wise it seems pretty even.

          • Wren
            February 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

            I can’t really get behind the father should decide argument. I can’t imagine making any medical decision for our children on my own, claiming my husband doesn’t have a say due to gender.

            Of course, that doesn’t make it anyone else’s business.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 23, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

            As a guy, I have to say I agree with Wren.

            I might have a penis, but I have absolutely NO experience with a non-circumcized version of it, so when it comes to comparing them, I have no special insight into the matter.

          • Lauren
            February 24, 2015 at 8:53 am #

            Haha! So true! And that’s what hubby said (he’s uncut). But I said, “Yes, but you know what it’s like to be uncut, how that gets treated by other guys/girls, the difficulties you’ve had because of it, etc.”
            But he doesn’t wish he was circumcised either, so he can at least weigh that kind of thinking in his mind. I know there’s a bit of ‘wanting to match’ involved too

            I could weigh in — and I did — but my point of view is just ‘well the data says both are pretty equal health-wise… I can’t comment on anything else”

            I guess what it comes down to is that it is not really IMPORTANT to me if our son is circumcised or not. It’s important that he’s healthy. So if my hubby has a preference, then we can go with that, because my preference is sort of …. irrelevant I guess.

            I don’t understand at all how someone can be ‘really against it’ though. Why? Just some other way to exercise the illusion of control under a false perception of oppression I guess.

          • Wren
            February 24, 2015 at 9:42 am #

            Actually, I can see how someone can be really against it. It is an effectively irreversible body modification and the decision is not made by the body’s owner. As you said, the choices are pretty equal health-wise, so I think a lot of people compare it to any other permanent cosmetic change and feel it’s not a reasonable choice for an infant.

          • Bugsy
            February 24, 2015 at 10:32 am #

            It’s just one more thing they’re against. The mom I mentioned above is also against formula feeding, ultrasounds, hospital births, relying on OB/GYNs, sleep training, conventional food, bottles, schedules, television, toys, nursery rhymes, any toy that could be made in China, organized activities, vaccinations, “mainstream” doctors, McDonald’s, pasteurized milk, eating at restaurants period, preschool, the educational system, mainstream society, radiation, plastics, chemtrails, non-filtered water, GMOs, store-bought food, microwaves, plastic ice cube trays, non-organic furniture. Also against moms who don’t buy into – and continuously validate – the awesomeness of her ability to parent, as I have learned.

            The list goes on….and on….and on. Everything is a cause to be rallied against, as it could expose her child to the evil world and to risks that exist in it.

            I had no idea that these nuts truly existed before my friend became one. Generally speaking, the *only* piece of unsolicited advice I will offer – as a relatively new parent myself – is to run fast from parents like her. They’re judgmental imbiciles who simply care about making themselves look good on the bizarre parenting scorecard they’ve adopted. Trust me when I say that no friendship – I’d been close friends with this girl for 25 years – is worth subjecting yourself to this level of judgment and control…and frankly, borderline mental abuse.

          • Busbus
            March 2, 2015 at 10:24 am #

            Ha ha ha, can I say that except for one item on the list you gave, I do/did every single one of them and that made me laugh real hard!? Maybe I’m just one smug conventional parent ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Lauren
            February 24, 2015 at 8:48 am #

            Yes I agree with you big medical decisions are a joint sort of thing, but circumcision is really just for looks or comfort, so if our little guy is no worse off one way or the other, I’m okay with whatever Dad decides.
            I’d like to make an analogy with a girl child…but other than dealing with the monthly flow, there doesn’t seem to be anything quite the same as this.
            If it were a medically relevant issue, I know we would talk it out and come to an agreement though.

          • Bugsy
            February 24, 2015 at 10:22 am #

            For some of my friends, the only potentially comparable girls’ issue was ear piercing. It’s not an issue we’ve had to face, though, so not sure I consider it on par w/ circumcision.

          • Roadstergal
            February 24, 2015 at 11:32 am #

            And there are no medical benefits to ear piercing. You can argue that the medical benefits to circumcision aren’t worth it to you, but not that they don’t exist. There really is no parallel for women.

          • Bugsy
            February 23, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

            Lauren – telling her off would have been great. ๐Ÿ™‚ She asked through my mom, and I have no idea what her reply was. My reply to inquiring minds now is simply “My son’s private parts aren’t up for discussion.” End of story.

            (I do discuss the issue with friends who ask because they’re genuinely trying to figure out what’s their own best path, however.)

          • Lauren
            February 24, 2015 at 8:45 am #

            Oh your poor mom, having to deal with that!
            But good for you for being strong and telling them where to go ๐Ÿ˜‰
            Yeah I find if you are truly just looking for a helpful opinion when making a choice like this, lots of parents are happy to quietly, privately discuss it. I never gave it much thought before because..well I don’t have a penis. I know medically it doesn’t make much difference. Here in Ontario, you pay a small fee for the procedure, BECAUSE it’s medically irrelevant. I don’t think that really factors into our decision, but I know it did for others.

          • rational adult
            February 24, 2015 at 9:13 am #

            Right and there’s a difference between privately soliciting an opinion and saying “what are you doing, but first let me tell you I’m opposed to circumcision and will prepare to lecture and judge you.”

          • Bugsy
            February 24, 2015 at 10:20 am #

            It reminds me of an online moms’ group I was part of for a while…it was full of non-stop drama. Some of the women would post things like “I’m not trying to stir up any drama, but wondering what everyone’s feelings are on circumcision?” and would watch as the moms would literally tear each others’ hair out. I left the group and never looked back…issues such as my son’s private parts are private for a reason. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Cobalt
            February 23, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

            “Did you really just ask me what my son’s penis look like?”

            That shuts them down pretty quick. If they agree that they really do want to know what it looks like, I’d probably make a “calling the cops” reference, but I’ve never had anyone push it that far.

          • Bugsy
            February 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

            Absolutely beautiful!!


          • Samantha06
            February 23, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

            Haha! Love it!! I’d pay money to see the look on their faces when you drop that one on them!!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            February 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

            Hear, hear!
            Call me old-fashioned, but why on EARTH would someone consider it acceptable to ask perfect strangers about their children’s genitalia? Frankly, back when I was working in retail, my response to either overhearing this or having a customer report it to me would have been to ask the off-duty cop working security to go have a stern chat with the idiot in question.

          • sdsures
            April 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

            Again: Ew.

          • Samantha06
            February 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm #

            The thing that always amazes me is that so many of these idiots actually get insulted when you won’t answer their rude, prying questions.
            A lovely southern lady I worked with used to say, “Help me understand what makes you think you have a right to know such personal information.”
            I always loved that one..

          • Bugsy
            February 24, 2015 at 10:23 am #

            That’s a beauty, Samantha!

          • Samantha06
            February 24, 2015 at 10:31 am #

            I know… She used variations on it too, ie “Help me understand why you think it’s OK to:
            make that statement, speak that way to me, etc, etc…. I think it’s great and always stops them in their tracks…..

          • Bugsy
            February 26, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

            Check out the troll who just asked me if my son gets a say in his private parts (up above). It’s like case-in-point!

          • Samantha06
            February 27, 2015 at 12:39 am #

            Good grief, what an idiot….

          • Bugsy
            February 27, 2015 at 9:34 am #

            It’s like he/she wanted to provide the perfect example for a lack of boundaries in cases where “they” can offer “us” better parenting advice. Love the judgment that rang out loud & clear in troll’s question.

          • Samantha06
            February 28, 2015 at 12:22 am #

            And he/she oozed an attitude of superiority…

          • Bugsy
            February 28, 2015 at 10:57 am #

            They usually do!

          • Bugsy
            February 26, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

            Check out the troll above, and my reply.

          • sdsures
            April 2, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

            Which one?

          • Samantha06
            February 23, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

            Daaammmnn!!!!! Now that takes some kind of nerve! Sounds like the daughter takes her crazy cues from the mother!

          • Bugsy
            February 24, 2015 at 10:18 am #


          • guest
            February 26, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

            does your son get a say in his private parts?

          • Bugsy
            February 26, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

            Did you really just ask me what my son’s genitalia looks like? Help me understand what makes you think you have a right to know such personal information.

            Our decision is, frankly, none of your damn business.

          • Samantha06
            February 27, 2015 at 12:37 am #

            Love your reply!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • sdsures
            April 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

            Ew, ew, ew.

          • Samantha06
            February 27, 2015 at 12:36 am #

            Her son is none of your fucking business.

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

            There seems to be almost no appropriate boundaries when it comes to women and how they use their bodies, how they choose to live their lives, how they dress, what they eat….
            Basically, if you’re a woman, everything about you is fair game for scrutiny and judgement.

          • Samantha06
            February 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

            So true! And if you’re single, it seems to be worse, at least to me. Some of my married friends seem to think they have the right to do exactly those things, and it aggravates me to no end! I finally confronted one who is particularly controlling. I asked her if she is as free with her opinions with her other married friends on how to live their lives and she shut her mouth!!

          • Lauren
            February 24, 2015 at 8:42 am #

            Haha! Good for you! It’s like some sort of drawn-out cult initiation: once you’re part of the group, you have to continually harass everyone around you who might be a potential member until they join!

        • February 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

          Yes, precisely. The kid is receiving adequate sustenance, they’re entering a household where they’re wanted, have been prepared for, and under the care of thoughtful parents, and you’re making a decision that makes caring for that child as healthful and stress-free as possible.

    • staceyjw
      February 22, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

      Most moms start BF at the hospital, try it for a few days, but few continue. This graph is initiation, not BF past that.I think this says more about the demands on moms than their desire to BF. Why bother if you just have to go right back to work?

      • Wren
        February 22, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

        Or it says something about the push to breastfeed in hospitals and women stopping once they decide it’s not their thing.

      • vvsquirrel
        February 22, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

        having to go back to work so soon must be terrible. I’m lucky to live in a country where mothers can stay home on paid maternity leave until the baby is about 9 months old.

        • rox
          February 23, 2015 at 4:29 am #

          From Eastern Europe?

          • yugaya
            February 23, 2015 at 6:34 am #

            You usually get a full year of maternity leave in Eastern Europe, in some places up to three years with child maintenance state payments that are abt 70% of previous income.

          • Lauren
            February 23, 2015 at 8:09 am #

            One year in Canada, legally at 55% of your current pay, but some employers have plans in place that allow for up to 75% of pay (I’ve not heard of anyone getting more than that, but it is obviously possible)

        • Bugsy
          February 23, 2015 at 10:20 am #

          I can’t imagine having to go back right after a child is born. My little guy was born in the U.S., and while I was able to receive an extended leave (no pay), my husband’s employer not only expected him back the day after our son was born, but expected him to work overtime.

          We’re now up in Canada, and very much appreciate that most of the families we know have taken a full year of maternity/paternity leave.

        • Busbus
          February 23, 2015 at 10:48 am #

          Where I’m from (in Europe), basically every woman stays home for a year after a baby is born (many for longer), and they receive money from the government during that time and, in most jobs, are guaranteed their exact position back after maternity leave. While I do live in the US now, I freelance, which has its own challenges (and I could never afford to stay home for more than a few months), but it’s still also easier in many ways, since I have more freedom in setting my own hours. If I had to go back to work after just a few weeks, I would NEVER bother with breastfeeding at all. Just not worth the trouble. Seriously, if that’s the case, just do what you need to to stay sane and don’t listen to any naysayers. All the mothers who have to cope under these very difficult circumstances are heroes, period. (And don’t even get me started on paternity leave, or the absence of any other support from society, ie, money, daycare, health care and so on.)

      • Lion
        February 23, 2015 at 5:46 am #

        I think that does have an impact on moms’ desire to breastfeed. Where I live we have four months maternity leave and a protected right to two breaks per day over and above lunch break to express milk or to go home and feed baby. For mothers who do wish to breastfeed, we don’t ever hear that they aren’t going to because they just have to go back to work, they’re usually well established by then and although working and breastfeeding has some challenges, the tough part of breastfeedign is the first 6 weeks or so, by about three months, things are usually pretty easy and by four months you’re an old pro.

    • Who?
      February 23, 2015 at 2:06 am #

      This is a world of absolutes though, a bit like the anti-vaccination space.

      Apparently 60% successful (this year’s flu vax) is terrible; 95%-or is it 99%-successful (measles, with a full course) is also terrible.

      Only 100% will do.

      It must be a tough life doing everything 100% all the time.

      • Sue
        February 23, 2015 at 2:55 am #

        SPot on. In anti-science world, less than 100% effective is the same as 0%.

        How many times have we heard “if you’re so confident about vaccines, why are you worried that your kids might catch things from mine?’

      • sdsures
        April 2, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

        Only a Sith deals in absolutes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Amy Tuteur, MD
    February 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I edited to the text to include the specific breastfeeding rates at the times of highest and lowest initiation.

  9. Young CC Prof
    February 22, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    I’m not totally sure what the IQ graph is saying. I assume it’s average score on WISC or Wechsler, and that it stops a few years earlier than breastfeeding because it takes a few years for children to be reliably testable, but measured at what age? And why is it starting from zero?

    • Mandi6278
      February 22, 2015 at 11:41 am #

      The IQ line is showing a steady increase in IQ over the last 10 years. The BF line is showing ups and downs in the BF rates. If BF had any effect whatsoever on IQ, then the IQ line would somewhat mirror the dips and rises of the BF line. However, as they remain completely independent of each other, it stands to reason that BFing has no effect on IQ.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD
        February 22, 2015 at 11:50 am #

        That’s what I intended to show.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 22, 2015 at 11:55 am #

      It stops a few years earlier because I couldn’t find any data on more recent IQ measurements.

      • Cobalt
        February 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

        The IQ line needs it’s own scale/axis markings.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          February 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

          Sorry about that. The y-axis is rise in points. I’ll fix the graph.

    • Julia
      February 22, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

      It would also be helpful to indicate how many data points make up the line for IQ. Being a straight line, it looks as if it’s only two data points – is that correct?

      • Young CC Prof
        February 23, 2015 at 12:42 am #

        I don’t think so. These are national averages, so there shouldn’t be a whole lot of variation.

        • Julia
          February 23, 2015 at 6:40 am #

          CC prof: The x-axis goes is 5s until 1970, then in 10s until 1990 and then in 5s again. So a perfectly straight line is unlikely unless the IQ gain slowed down to exactly 1/2 between 1970 and 1990…

      • Amy Tuteur, MD
        February 23, 2015 at 11:10 am #

        Only 2 data points. The increase in IQ is a well known phenomenon and is often referred to as the Flynn effect.

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