Formula Versus Breastmilk Study

by Leisa on January 8, 2010

While on the treadmill at the gym yesterday morning, I saw on the television news program that they were discussing a new study which promoted the fact that formula could improve on breastmilk for babies.

My skeptical mind immediately thought “who paid for that study?”, and nothing could be better for a baby than natural breast milk , ideally from a well nourished and healthy Mum.

This morning on Natural News an article came through which discussed this particular study, and sure enough, it was slanted to support the baby formula industry…

“A recent study lauding the benefits of fortified infant formula has been greeted with skepticism by child development specialists, who suspect that the study is only the first part of an attempt to promote formula over breastmilk.

“It is clear that the food industry fascination with nutraceuticals (strategically fortified food products) is now spreading into infant formula,” said Barbara Moore of Shape Up America! “This is a disturbing new development. We have parents thinking that sticking their tiny infants in front of a Baby Einstein video will improve their child’s mental development when the data suggest that parent-child interactions (and plenty of them) are the most critical factor for such development. Now parents will be encouraged to fore-go breastfeeding — which is optimal for both mothers and babies — in favor of a hyped up infant formula.”

A recent study concluded that children who consumed infant formula fortified with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA had higher cognitive function than children who consumed unfortified formula. Breastmilk was not included in the study, and the formula used in the study was provided for free by a manufacturer.

Miriam Labbok of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill said she was doubtful about the study’s findings.

“It might be reasonable from these industry-funded studies to consider that this would be a good additive to formula if you are forced to stop breastfeeding,” she said. “However, 1) none of these studies compare to continued breastfeeding, 2) you could also get these [nutrients] from other sources if you stop breastfeeding, and 3) there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other components in human milk that cannot be replaced.”

Pediatrician Lori Feldman-Winter of New Jersey noted that many mothers come to her believing that DHA-fortified milk is healthier for their infants than breastmilk.

“The marketing has actually dissuaded mothers from choosing exclusive breastfeeding, which is preferred from all the outcomes that we understand,” she said.

All major health and pediatric associations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life, if not longer.”

Unfortunately in this industry of “scientific studies for hire”, it is worth asking the question “who stands to gain” when evaluating the merits of a particular study, and “how have the results been manipulated to result in a desired outcome”.



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3 commentsAdd comment

Tanya Epis January 31, 2010 at 11:53 am

Wow…, that’s really awesome.., l remember watching that on the news and thinking this couldn’t possibly be true (l breastfed all three of my children for over 12months)….. l felt that it was a really special thing to do for my children at the time)…, however l was made to feel ‘not so special’ when l saw on the news that ‘formula’ was now the way to go……. l felt confused…, however you have made the confusion go away and make me understand the manipulation of words and how they are used for marketing purposes ect…….
cheers.., tanya x
(tanya from sally’s raw food dinner party ) – love your blog spot and info pages.

neeke December 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm

i think they get us by “selling” the benefits for the mothers. Which I think outweigh the benefits for the infant. In almost every article, most of reasons why you should breastfeed is about delaying your menstruation (you haven’t had one for 9 months) plus they have BCP that can delay it. Then there’s something about lowering your risk of certain cancers. Well what if you are already healthy and no one in your family has had cancer. New mommies wonder why babies cry so much. If their breastfed they are probably hungry. Immunity and antibodies I think get transferred when the baby is developing.
If antibodies were in milk, shouldn’t women have less incidence of breast cancer?

neeke December 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I know breastmilk is free and that formula can be quite expensive. Maybe our beef is with the manufacturers of infant formula and the price. But if you’re having children you would have accessed this already.

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