World Breastfeeding Week challenge for lactivists

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Prepare yourself!

Next week is World Breastfeeding Week. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of articles, and podcasts and tweets rhapsodizing about the benefits of breastfeeding as well as an onslaught of images of breastfeeding stunts — breastfeeding in uniform, in evening gowns or naked outdoors — ironically designed to “normalize” breastfeeding. Prepare yourself for a disingenuous effort to convince you that breastfeeding is a critical issue of public health when it is nothing more than the choice between two excellent ways to nourish an infant (formula being the other).

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Can lactivists promote breastfeeding by sticking to the facts?[/pullquote]

I’d like to offer a challenge to lactivists: Can they promote breastfeeding by sticking to the facts or do they reflexively resort to grossly exaggerating the benefits?

Will they stick to the truth that the ONLY proven benefits of breastfeeding for term infants are 8% fewer colds and episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants across the first year?

Will they acknowledge that breastfeeding has no discernible impact on the vast majority of term infants?

Or will they roll out a long list of “benefits” that are based on weak or conflicting data or based on studies that were discredited long ago because they failed to take into account the impact of maternal socio-economic status on infant outcomes?

I’m going to guess that lactivists will not be able to keep themselves from exaggerating the benefits. Why not? Because it is difficult to make the case that breastfeeding is critical when you acknowledge the scientific reality that it isn’t.

Perhaps they’ll surprise me and stick to the truth; we’ll see.