to wonder which formula company sponsored this article?

(316 Posts)
nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 19:49:41

It just seems so anti-breastfeeding! Surely the health benefits of BFing are proven - there's nothing political about saying that it protects against disease, for example.I agree that of course you can form a close bond with your baby when FFing but the rest of the article seems determined to bat away all the 'supposed' benefits of BFing and focus on any perceived 'cons'.

BlackMaryJanes Tue 12-Mar-13 19:51:48


MrsKeithRichards Tue 12-Mar-13 19:52:56

But it's true in saying no benefit has been measured in isolation as that's not possible.

gordyslovesheep Tue 12-Mar-13 19:54:25

yabu - people are allowed opinions without being sponsored by anyone

EntWife Tue 12-Mar-13 19:58:30

actually i found it a breath of fresh air from the usual breast is best lalalalalala fingers in ears mantra trotted out in the parenting press.

But then i am feeling slightly belligerent tonight as have had my closest friend over today sobbing while she tries desperately to give herself permission to stop breast feeding her second child because frankly it just isn't working for her or her family but because that message is so rammed down our throats (despite evidence to the contrary) she feels like switching to formula would be a cop out and she would somehow be letting down her baby.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 20:02:58

See, I feel like sometimes it is the formula message that is rammed down our throats! I am sorry for your friend EntWife, I hope she's able to move on without feeling guilty or sad.

I don't think the point of the breast is best message is to make people feel guilty, though, I often think the message has to fight to be heard amongst the billion dollar marketing spend of the formula giants.

Softlysoftly Tue 12-Mar-13 20:03:32

What gordy said. And Ent actually.


ChestyLeRoux Tue 12-Mar-13 20:04:35

I think that formula feeding is pushed waaay more than breast feeding.

myrubberduck Tue 12-Mar-13 20:07:48

Can't really see how it's 'anti' bf- anti bf bullshit maybe but not anti bf.

Softlysoftly Tue 12-Mar-13 20:09:07

But Nitty I think it's the way it's said and not necessarily by health care professionals.

I bf my 9 month old and to get here have used a few groups eg analytical armadillo. Now while aa herself isn't bad some of the commentary from other mothers makes you shock. Child abuse and lazy bit to bf springs v to mind with simperings of how bonded they are more than those nasty bottles.

Mothers are influenced far me by pressure and judgement from other mothers more than they are by advertising. I'd go so far as to day formula companies influence choice of brand more than they do the initial option of ff Vs bf iyswim.

Softlysoftly Tue 12-Mar-13 20:10:15

Bf while typing makes softly incoherent grin

Kazooblue Tue 12-Mar-13 20:11:49

These views are pretty reasonable and widespread particularly amongst scientific bods.

It's hardly news or unreasonable confused

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 20:13:21

Well...she implies/states that;
BFing will harm your career prospects
BFing will leave you fatter than if you had bottlefed
BFing will steal all your time and negate the benefits of any money you might have saved;
Any benefits that we think we might get from BFing are out of date and actually not proved;
Pretty anti BFing from where I'm standing.
Then has the utter cheek to call BFing promotion 'heavy handed' - when we are SURROUNDED by formula advertising wherever we go!

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 20:14:01

and ps I have bottle fed and breast fed.

MrsKeithRichards Tue 12-Mar-13 20:17:24

I've done both also and in no way feel surrounded by formula advertising.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 12-Mar-13 20:20:06

I do not want to sounds disingenuous here, and I know Formula companies have a lot to answer for in Developing countries


All the formula adverts I have seen here, categorically say that breastmilk is the best thing for babies.

Carolra Tue 12-Mar-13 20:23:23

I loved this article, thank you for posting it. I don't think it's anti-Breastfeeding, it's just pointing out that there are some downsides to Breastfeeding and that some of the benefits we've all heard don't actually hold out under scientific study. And it's not correct to say that there are plenty of studies supporting aspects of Breastfeeding because it is almost impossible to exclude socio-economic factors when making health/intelligence comparisons. Hurrah for some balance.

Saski Tue 12-Mar-13 20:27:17

The only thing that seemed to have any scientific basis in the article was the link to the article debunking the IQ link, which I knew about when I was breastfeeding my now-7-year-old. They forgot to control for maternal IQ.

Otherwise, there's no new information.

Cuddlydragon Tue 12-Mar-13 20:31:38

I too loved the article. A breath of fresh air amongst the usual rhetoric. I do wonder where some posters go to be "surrounded by formula advertising". Hmmmmmm

MrsKeithRichards Tue 12-Mar-13 20:35:27

Maybe they are sitting in the follow on formula aisle?

Cuddlydragon Tue 12-Mar-13 20:46:16

Gosh mrskeith, you might be onto something there.......should we tell themwink

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 20:46:28

It's on the TV, in magazines, on the radio....

The formula companies are not allowed to advertise first stage milks, but they certainly go for it with the rest of their products. They legally HAVE to say in their advertising that breastfeeding is best for your baby, they obviously wouldn't otherwise because breastfeeding doesn't make them any money!

Sorry but I definitely read this as an article that sought to discredit breastfeeding. And given that 1 percent of babies is still exclusively breastfed at 6 months in this country, despite the fact that the WHO recommends exclusive BFing for all babies till this age, the BFing message has clearly not been pushed too far at all!

Cuddlydragon Tue 12-Mar-13 20:50:16

Gosh, if I'd only been told breast is best, I'm sure I'd have done it........I don't believe there is a single pregnant woman in this country right now hasn't been expressly told breast is best, regardless of how true some claims are. I was told by various midwives, my baby would be more likely to catch meningitis or my own personal favourite, Mylene Klass breasted, which is why she's so slim. On the other hand the really cute bear on the aptamil bottle swung it for me. confused

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 20:51:46

What's wrong with being told that breast is best, though, Cuddly?

MobyMistake Tue 12-Mar-13 20:54:29

I do wonder where some posters go to be "surrounded by formula advertising"

The only advertising I have ever seen is follow on milk ... and even that advert seemed pro-bf - "breast milk is perfect, nothing compares to it"

I didn't think FF was allowed to be advertised?

Boots don't even give points on first formula.


Carolra Tue 12-Mar-13 20:55:37

Because its not true for every mum and every baby nitty. It just isn't, regardless of any studies or research and it can have very serious downsides for some people. So the unequivocal message that breast is best is actually damaging in some instances.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 20:57:06

What I love (not) about the advert you mention Moby, is how insidiously clever it is....the mum is BFing and it's raining outside....when she decides to move on from BFing it's suddenly sunny.
It's estimated the formula companies spend about £12m advertising their products in the UK.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:02:03

Actually, the message should be, breast is normal.

The reason that BFing is often so difficult for women in this country is because the formula companies with their huge marketing spends have successfully robbed us as a culture of a skill that used to be known and practiced by pretty much 100% of women. They convinced women that formula was better.Women don't know how to do it, or how to support others in doing it in the way they would have done 100 years ago.

In poor countries with no access to formula practically all women breastfeed. In the UK far fewer do. There is a reason for that.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:03:16

This is from another blog, but sums it up about right -
“breast is best” frames formula feeding as the norm and breastfeeding as a nice extra if you’re able to do it. The message that parents receive has become “breast is best, but formula is OK too”. “Breast is best” allows formula companies to say “We fully support breastfeeding. See – it says so on our website and products”. It allows the companies to give the appearance of caring about breastfeeding while they go about undermining it......formula companies use their supposed “support” of breastfeeding to make moms feel like while breastfeeding is the goal it’s a near impossible one and it’s okay to use the easy alternative (formula).

Chunderella Tue 12-Mar-13 21:06:34

Well she's right about the lack of randomised control trials. That would be ethically impossible, so inevitably that's always going to be a weakness in any research about the advantages of bf over ff. Not really any getting round that. So if you read the scientific literature, it usually says bf is associated with X positives, or sometimes correlates with- not the same as caused. Also, in the UK there's quite a close connection between bf and being otherwise socially advantaged: women who are educated are more likely to do it etc. That also makes it hard to pick out how much of the difference between BF babies and FF babies is down to the fact that BF babies usually have more going for them socially. Certainly, some studies try to control for this. But such a very tiny number of the most disadvantaged babies are EBF that we just don't know how babies in the most deprived circumstances would be doing if they were EBF'd. It inevitably falls into the realm of educated guesswork.

However, the stuff about loss of income is incongruous. The writer purports to be discussing the situation in the UK, a situation where we have months of paid maternity leave- ok not paid well, but enough that significant numbers of us can stay off work for as long as we'd like and long enough to follow NHS recommendations re EBF. In the US, they have much less. I believe it's only 12 weeks and that's if you qualify. So there are women who are having to choose between establishing BF properly and going back to work there. Yes, you can pump etc, but if you have to go back to work at, say, 8 weeks, there's obviously less chance of that working than if you go back at 12 months and pump then. The writer must have known that, so she undermines her case by including material from the US without the proper caveats.

motherinferior Tue 12-Mar-13 21:06:49

It's a perfectly good article. I've talked to both Kramer and Wolf for stuff I've written, and liked them both. The evidence for breastfeeding is good in some areas and pretty damn weak in others; it hasn't been proved to protect against all the things some people claim. It won't be a guaranteed weight-loser. It is - especially in the early stages - quite draining. If you work, you do have to sort out some way in which your baby will be fed while you do so.

Incidentally, I am very pro breastfeeding and breastfed both my babies, the second one exclusively to six months and then till around 18 months (if you count expressing, what with the fact I did have to earn a living at the same time).

MobyMistake Tue 12-Mar-13 21:08:22

the mum is BFing and it's raining outside..

It's actually Autumn and then Winter and then Spring.

The mum is in the same room the entire time.

Baby crawls outside at the end.

MobyMistake Tue 12-Mar-13 21:09:28

The seasons changing is showing how the baby is now growing up and how you might decide to change to follow on milk once your child is older.

MobyMistake Tue 12-Mar-13 21:11:34

breastfeeding to make moms feel like while breastfeeding is the goal it’s a near impossible one and it’s okay to use the easy alternative

What's wrong with that? confused

I think that's an awful thing to say - "easy alternative"

I'm not interested in another bf vs ff thread and for people to be judged for their own choices.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:12:49

Me neither Moby, I mentioned before that I have done both, I just thought this was a biased, unhelpful article which seemed to seek to undermine breastfeeding, as if it needed undermined any more than it already is.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:15:38

This, too, is deliberately disingenuous;
'In some ways, the heavy-handed promotion of breastfeeding, which extends as far as charity Save The Children’s suggestion that that formula milk should carry health warnings, could even be detrimental to bonding between a mother and her newborn child.'

Heavy-handed promotion of breastfeeding?It's the heavy handed, downright evil promotion of formula in developing countries that has led to the Save the Children campaign, which aims to highlight the dangers of formula without access to clean water in poor countries.

Scheherezade Tue 12-Mar-13 21:16:49

Yanbu, but its illegal to mention bf on MN, didn't you know? It's our dirty little secret.

Nancy66 Tue 12-Mar-13 21:16:54

I've been convinced for years that the benefits of BFing are massively over-stated.

Cuddlydragon Tue 12-Mar-13 21:18:32

I do think that breast isn't always best and formula is fine too. I also think that there is never a point to debating the merits on a forum like this. You get both extremes, neither of whom will concede points and the middle ground becomes a battlefield. The interpretation of the aptamil advert is kind of the case in point of personal beliefs interpreting information and pretty pictures. I bloody loved aptamil, it fed and nourished my baby. I'm not getting sucked into the usual coda to statements like that, it matters not a jot if a mother tries to breast feed and can't, her choice is no more valid or worthy than choosing not to breastfeed at all.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:25:05

This massive study done in 2007 found which of the benefits of BFing were invented and which were real. For example, it concedes that there is no evidence BF babies are more intelligent.

If BFing really isn't that great, why do governments worldwide spend a lot of money that could be spent elsewhere on promoting it? The American Academy of Pediatrics, the WHO, our own government....we live in austere times, I can't imagine they would want to waste their money promoting something that actually isn't really much better than formula....

Softlysoftly Tue 12-Mar-13 21:27:02

Argh see is messages like that "detrimental to the bond" that cause the issues.

It's just not fucking true and I've ff dd1 and am bf dd2 at 9 months.

Banging the evangelical drum had 1 of 2 reactions. It guilts those of a sensitive/perfectionist persuasion into a huge staye if they struggle to bf and that affects the bond far more than ff from the off.

Our it turns people deaf to or outright anti the message.

Has anyone ever converted to a religion because someone yelled they were going to burn from some Street corner somewhere? No.

The message should ignore ff completely, it should I agree be more breast is normal and assume a stance of that being the default position.

It does in essence need a bloody good marketing agency (not an nhs one) and for the evangelists to stfu as they do more damage than good.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:29:43

It's the author that's saying that a message on formula cans could be detrimental to the bond between mother and baby, though.

I don't think that health professionals pointing out the health benefits of BFing is evangelical, though, but it seems you're not allowed to promote or support BFing at times without being accused of being a member of the 'breastapo' or a 'breastfeeding Nazi' which is so offensive.

Chunderella Tue 12-Mar-13 21:32:04

Nitty you'll notice that the study you mention uses phrases like 'associated with' and 'relationship between'. The authors, rightly, aren't claiming that bf causes those benefits: the data doesn't show that, it shows that bf babies enjoy them but not why they do. So this study and the author of the article are actually saying the same thing in that respect, it's just difference in presentation.

Carolra Tue 12-Mar-13 21:35:08

I find it pretty offensive that anyone feels they need to promote breastfeeding at all. It's none of your business what anyone else chooses to do..... Read the research, choose what you want to do with your babies, but please don't tell me what's best for mine....

Pigsmummy Tue 12-Mar-13 21:35:11

Yawn, another thread about FF/BF.

Pigsmummy Tue 12-Mar-13 21:36:46

Btw You are BU in thinking that this blog will influence a woman either way.

ChairmanWow Tue 12-Mar-13 21:38:22

I think OP YABU to assume that anything which questions claims about the benefits of bf is automatically sponsored by a formula company. I also think that encouraging (not pressuring) women into bf is a good thing and we should be supported in trying it if we have made an informed choice to do so.

However there are multiple reasons as to why it simply doesn't work for some women and our feeding choices or necessities should be respected. Formula isn't poison and is a perfectly acceptable alternative - more so now than ever before due to advances in the last few years.

It would be great if this thread became a healthy debate into the pros and cons of the article and not another bunfight.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:38:44

I hear what you are saying Chunderella but I think once you take into account the fact that the studies were adjusted for potential confounders such as gender, number of siblings, family day care, nursery day care, number of children in the home, maternal age, parental race or ethnicity, parity, maternal marital status, and parental smoking, then look at the marked differences between the BF and non BF children it's reasonable to assume that BFing has played a part in the outcomes.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:41:34

'I find it pretty offensive that anyone feels they need to promote breastfeeding at all.'

Carolra,What a ridiculous statement!Should nobody promote things that are known to be healthy and good for you, then? Should we stop promoting healthy eating in schools, and exercise? In case it offends you?

It is other people's business, when babies are admitted to hospital with gastric problems and other illnesses they wouldn't have had if they had been feeding is a public health issue.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:43:12

It's amazing that people get so offended and hot under the collar about the BFing message, saying it's rammed down their throats and heavy handed and oversold, yet no one yet seems to have any issues with the formula message, despite the fact that formula feeding costs the lives of thousands of babies each year due to their heavy handed and frankly disgusting marketing practices.

MrsKeithRichards Tue 12-Mar-13 21:46:46

Nitty you seem to be on a mission to have an argument.

Yes the behaviour of formula makers and their advertising here, many moons ago, and currently in developing countries is damaging and dangerous. But that isn't what people are referring too. Right now, here in the U.K., people aren't targeted and bombarded as we've had, and quite rightly so, legislation in place to stop it.

myrubberduck Tue 12-Mar-13 21:46:47

Nittynora you either haven't read a lot the research, have misunderstood it or are deliberately misrepresenting it; most research shows no or marginal difference not 'marked'as you suggest,

fromparistoberlin Tue 12-Mar-13 21:49:53

some women genuinely cant
some women give up too easily

and fine, but I do think we need to do something to change BF lentillly image as there is a HUGE sector of society that think its icky, and I am baffled how we sway them?

This journo used to write for the Fail. I wish they had stated that at the beginning of the article, it would have saved me having to read her tortuted prose with dubious content.

As for the FF vs BF debate, for me BF was one of the best experiences of my life. I appreciate it is not the experience of the majority of the people and their choices are frankly none of my business. I would not like to be the kind of woman who tells others how to feed the babies they grew in their own uteri. It is an intensely personal choice. The fact that formula companies are using unethical practices (especially in poorer countries with fewer regulations) in trying to convince mothers to become reliant on their brand is a whole other thread.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 21:51:59

I guess I can't hope to win this one - the article is clearly anti breastfeeding, and there is a huge body of evidence to support the benefits of breastfeeding, otherwise why would government and organisations the world across support it? Do you think they are all stupid, or working with out of date, unproven research? Why would they go to such lengths to promote breastfeeding if it isn't really any better than formula?

I have read the research rubberduck. For example,
When exclusive breastfeeding for more than 3 or 6 months was compared with exclusive bottle- or formula- feeding, one study reported 28 percent and another study reported 45 percent relative risk reduction in AOM(an ear infection) - that seems quite marked to me. That is just one example.

Chunderella Tue 12-Mar-13 21:51:59

Hmm well Nitty (love that name) the extent to which one can adjust accurately isn't universally agreed. Not all the studies mentioned in the big 2007 report even attempted to adjust for confounders anyway, although the report takes this into account- another reason it's a good piece of work. You say 'it's reasonable to assume' and the key word there is assume. Not prove, or know. For some people, association is enough. For others, it isn't.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 22:00:11

What I'm saying though is that there MUST be something in all of these claims that BFing is best, otherwise why would anyone spend money on promoting it, when no one stands to benefit financially?

fromparistoberlin Tue 12-Mar-13 22:00:59

"yet no one yet seems to have any issues with the formula message, despite the fact that formula feeding costs the lives of thousands of babies each year due to their heavy handed and frankly disgusting marketing practices.

eh? LOADS of people feel this way, esp on MN!!!!

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 22:02:04

I mean on this thread, fromparistoberlin.

munchkinmaster Tue 12-Mar-13 22:04:21

The argument that it doesn't save you money cos it takes time is a bit ridiculous. As someone said we have good maternity benefits in the uk. Luckily women are by and large not deciding whether to devote time to feeding or earning.

One of my bugbears about ff companies is they make thier money from selling you a product many people do not need. They may not advertise first milk but they are slyly marketing all the time. There is no real difference between follow on and first milk. They only make follow on so they have something to advertise.

I wish we could have a grown up conversation re formula at times. Women need to not be made to feel like it is the be all and end all if they can't bf. health proffesionals need to be able to give ff advice to those that want it (at the moment this is seen as promoting ff and can lose hospitals thier bf friendly status and the money that goes with it).

But with rates of bf still so low with all the above in place I wonder if a more balanced message would reduce bf yet further?

MrsKeithRichards Tue 12-Mar-13 22:04:40

I don't think anyone is arguing that bf isn't the best option.

The article is correct though.

It would be impossible to remove all other factors and influences to ascertain the exact differences based solely on what a baby is fed for the few months at the start of their lives however we're constantly told bf prevents eczema, obesity, allergies and a huge range of ailments.

mrsstewpot Tue 12-Mar-13 22:06:27

Me neither Moby, I mentioned before that I have done both, I just thought this was a biased, unhelpful article which seemed to seek to undermine breastfeeding, as if it needed undermined any more than it already is.

For someone who states they have both breast and bottle fed and wants to be unbiased you are doing a pretty good job to promote breast feeding and judge others. Every post has been pro breast and anti formula.

Breast feeding is not remotely undermined - we all know 'breast is best' and is generally advocated over formula. And I completely disagree that we are bombarded with formula advertisements.

nitty I hear you! I don't have much more to add though as I just end up banging my head on a brick wall.

On my drive to tesco I see 3 huge "follow on" formula adverts and switch off/fast forward the tv ads. I don't see any advertising of breastfeeding (other than a pamphlet from MW and a poster up in the hospital).

Back to the article though, I have never heard of half of those health "benefits" of bf (lukemia, lymphoma etc) and I am bf peer supporter (obv my training is only superficial compared to a hcp). If the context of this article is to discuss bf-ing in relation to uk/europe then it is wrong to bring in save the childrens campaign as this is aimed at 3rd world countries where formula is actually killing children (although think that there should maybe be something on tins about the consequences of not preparing the formula correctly, if there isn't already). The article also pulls in quotes from the author of "is breast best" who is American and some of her points may be valid about "financial cost" of bfing in America where maternity leave is stupidly short. I particularly dismiss the claim of the "labour cost" women put in to bf-ing. As it is predominantly the mother who takes maternity leave, then its either her who will bf-ing or sterilising/preparing/feeding with bottles - is that not a labour cost too?

Sorry for incoherent ramblings!

MrsKeithRichards Tue 12-Mar-13 22:11:08

I also think to move forward with these arguments we need to stop the pro and anti talk. I can speak about the benefits of bf without being anti ff and I can talk about the convenience of ff without being anti bf.

Shagmundfreud Tue 12-Mar-13 22:14:29

I just find it astonishing that people have such double standards when it comes to research into infant feeding. The superiority of the physiological norm - a system of feeding which has evolved over millions of years isn't accepted because of the impossibility of designing trials which prove this. Artificial feeding of babies on the other hand, which in terms of the history of human nutrition is a) the biggest b) most radical and c) fastest change is considered completely safe and reliable in the short, medium and long term despite any large scale RCT's proving it to be so. And actually novel ingredients like chemically modified marine algae that have never before formed part of the infant diet are now being added to formula in some sort of grand, commercially sponsored experiment.

waits for someone to come along and say 'but they wouldn't be allowed to sell it if it wasn't good for babies - to which the response has to be ' if you can't prove that bf has benefits, neither can you prove that formula doesn't harm health and development in the short medium or long term.

ChairmanWow Tue 12-Mar-13 22:14:56

YY to what munchkin says. I couldn't bf. Despite trying every trick in the book for a month (with phenomenal MW support I have to say) I produced not more than a couple of drops. So we had to give formula and the MWs who came found every day weren't allowed to advise me on the best formula. Madness! Very little support also with the grief I felt at 'failing', and sadly several incidents of being harshly judged. I wish people could be a bit more grown up about the whole feeding issue.

There will be posters who've been judged for both types of feeding posting on here, and some of that judging will take place on this thread. Can I make another plea for sanity? We're all grown ups making our own choices.

Oh, and giving my child formula doesn't mean I'm not disgusted with the Nestles of this world for their behaviour in developing countries. But nitty that doesn't mean all formula is therefore automatically evil and we're bad people for giving it to our kids.

Chunderella Tue 12-Mar-13 22:16:53

Nitty your view seems to be that governments wouldn't advocate bf if they didn't know for sure that there were benefits, yes? Well that isn't necessarily the case. If they just thought there were because the evidence suggested that was more likely than not, that might be a good enough reason. Especially if encouraging bf wasn't going to do any or much harm. Governments don't always have the luxury of only encouraging and advocating for things which have absolutely certain benefits, especially with regards to health.

ChairmanWow Tue 12-Mar-13 22:16:54

And just as I make a plea for sanity among comes Shagmond with that absolutely disgusting last paragraph. Well done for dragging it down to playground level <slow handclap>.

Chunderella Tue 12-Mar-13 22:20:44

And not all of us accept the dogma that what we've evolved to do is automatically what is best, either. Evolution is not complete, and there are some physiological norms that some or most of us prefer to avoid. People who suggest bf must be best because it is physiologically the norm don't usually apply that to all of their biological processes!

who sponsored this then?

It's an article that you disagree with, that's fine btw.

But, some women breast feed, some women formula feed. As long as your child is being fed and is growing where is the issue. I was a ff baby and I have no allergies, illness, and I have a bond with my mum.

Everyone is different where is the issue with that?

Saying that whenever a formula advert comes on the first thing that is said is 'breast is best' so there is no issue there. We do not live in a perfect world. I would like to see a study of how many babies live because of formula.

myrubberduck Tue 12-Mar-13 22:28:14

I really don't see how just because something us 'the physiological norm' makes it always the better option; death at 50 is the physiological norm , no control over ones fertility is the physiological norm ; running around barefoot it the psychological norm FFS;

ya wearin' shoes shag?

myrubberduck Tue 12-Mar-13 22:30:11

Physiological norm not psychological norm damn autocorrect

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 22:38:32

From the Guardian article -
"Their homes are clean. They wash their hands. They will be reading more, talking more, serving more fruit and vegetables …"

My home is an absolute shit hole most of the time.

MissSingerbrains Tue 12-Mar-13 22:41:22

I don't know what wearing shoes has to do with anything? Shoes (or lack of) is not physiological norm, it's just development.

To me, common sense says that something that is natural, additive-free and physiologically the right option, is the right option. Just like as an adult, eating food that is natural and unprocessed is better for me that highly processed food.

OP YANBU and I agree with Shagmund.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 22:43:58

Very well said, misssingerbrains.

Cuddlydragon Tue 12-Mar-13 22:44:58

Yawn.................give up too easily, not trying hard enough, too thick to understand what you're being told and not swallowing it without predictable the level of debate on this. Ain't women supportive and respectful of each others choices. I'm out.

ChairmanWow Tue 12-Mar-13 22:47:13

Right behind you cuddly.

nittynittynora Tue 12-Mar-13 22:47:48

I don't think anyone called anyone thick. And the whole reason I began this thread was because of an article that seemed to my mind to disrespect and discredit other women's choice to breastfeed.

chandellina Tue 12-Mar-13 22:54:42

Safe and healthy formula to me is just development. It gives women a choice, and sometimes it's the best one. Many are willing to ignore the poorly controlled and contradictory research that shows at best minuscule health risks.

MissSingerbrains Tue 12-Mar-13 23:21:32

Cow's milk instead of human milk - I don't see that as development. And as for "safe and healthy" - sorry, it's just not!

nittynittynora Wed 13-Mar-13 07:11:35

No one wants women to feel guilty, or like bad mothers, for not breastfeeding. That helps nobody. And I've been there - I think that when you fail to breastfeed you feel so hurt and hyper sensitive that any material you see promoting BFing feels like a judgement, when it's not intended to be.

The reason I hated this article is because to help a woman who feels guilty over not BFing, the answer is NOT to slag off breastfeeding and rubbish all its benefits as unproven or minuscule.

Great link misssinger.

Chunderella Wed 13-Mar-13 10:20:33

MissSingerbrains the term 'natural' is a rather fluffy one and often misused. You mention food, well the diet of human beings postdating the introduction of agriculture is rather different from what we evolved to eat. Not many of us live wild off the land anymore. I don't, unless you count a blackberrying habit, and I doubt many other MNers do either. Even people who eat only organic, consume no processed foods and grow what they can are still eating very differently to how our ancestors did only 20,000 years ago. In evolutionary terms, that's very recent. One could refuse all grain and dairy, of course, but even if we were to stick to plants and animals (and the planet couldn't sustain us all doing it) so many of them are nothing like their natural state. Humans have messed with their evolution for our own benefit, and bred them to have the characteristics we want. Not sure what's natural about that.

I don't suggest this is a reason not to bf- you have the absolute right to do so for as long as you deem it suitable for you and DC. Just that it puts a rather big hole in the 'natural', we should eat what we evolved to eat argument. People who hold that view never apply it to every area of their life. If they suggest that it ought to be applied to bf, particularly based on 'common sense' and the view that association is evidence enough, people are going to point out the big holes in the argument.

And the link you provided is hardly scholarly. You're going to need to do better than that if you want to illustrate to us that formula isn't safe. Perhaps by telling us exactly which chemicals you object to. might be an idea to consider amounts too, as that information isn't on the poster.

Cuddlydragon Wed 13-Mar-13 20:29:55

chunderella, can I kiss you please?

Chunderella Wed 13-Mar-13 20:58:17

Any time, but I warn you I had garlic and onions for tea!

cory Wed 13-Mar-13 21:02:07

Was going to say what Chunderella just said: those of us who eat a modern diet of cultivated vegetables and grains and farmed animals and wear processed plants or minerals over our skins and travel around on wheels rather than on our feet can hardly claim to be in very close touch with our evolutionary selves.

Some of us have to go further than this. My dd has to have medication every morning to get through the day. Of course, from an evolutionary pov this is all wrong; she should have succumbed to natural selection years ago. Do I feel bad about it? No, quite smug actually.

You do what you can. For some that involves breastfeeding, for others not. For some (most) it involves being able to live without medication, for some not. For most of us it does not involve anything like a natural diet, body clock, daily routine- it cannot do, under modern circumstances.

RatPants Wed 13-Mar-13 21:08:56

I liked the article too and agree with a lot of what it is suggesting.

Startail Wed 13-Mar-13 21:10:37

Cost of the woman's labour, WTF.
I don't generally charge for reading to DD1, cuddling my baby/child, sitting watching TV or dozing in bed. Since this is what I did while feeding DD2, I'd hardly call it hard labour!

RatPants Wed 13-Mar-13 21:13:27

As an active person in general, I found all the sitting around breastfeeding hard going the second time around. I had an active toddler, a job and a house to run and if dc2 decided they wanted a feed at the wrong time, it was a bit if a nightmare tbh. Can definitely see the labour argument!

northerngirl41 Wed 13-Mar-13 22:03:34

I thought it was balanced - I would really like to see a blind test done of formula vs breastmilk and they actually record the results without all the other associated benefits of breastfeeding. Because it's not just the milk - it's the fact that the mother is clearly very dedicated to her child to do it, they can usually afford to take time off work, tend to be better educated, will be with their child more than someone bottle feeding potentially - all these things have a positive effect on the child, but it's not the breastmilk which does it.

Startail Wed 13-Mar-13 22:16:25

My Very extended BF DD is slimmer and outwardly cleverer than her FF dyslexic sister.

However, I suspect their IQ is very similar and their weight is down to temperament not feeding choice.

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 22:42:48

This article is written by a journalist - not an infant feeding expert or an epidemiologist.

Has the author done systematic, exhaustive academic overview of all the evidence on this subject? No. Therefore any sensible person is going to take her comments with a massive inch of salt.

Luckily for the journalist, the VAST majority of her readers will be mothers who have either not breastfed at all or who have breastfed for a maximum of a few weeks because that's the situation in the UK with only a small number of babies being bf past 6 weeks. They will be mothers angry about the promotion of breastfeeding within the NHS, feeling guilty and desperate for someone to come along and validate their choices. Which this article does. So of course it's going to get the big thumbs up from women. And even more happily for this journalist, mums who predominantly ff are almost always not very well informed about the finer points of infant feeding research. They haven't read the studies themselves so they're not in a position to make an informed assessment of the quality of this sort of article.

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 22:59:37

"Because it's not just the milk - it's the fact that the mother is clearly very dedicated to her child to do it, they can usually afford to take time off work, tend to be better educated, will be with their child more than someone bottle feeding potentially - all these things have a positive effect on the child, but it's not the breastmilk which does it."

Why aremost people happy to accept that fish oils given to children who are hyperactive can improve cognitive ability in tests, and behaviour, but not prepared to accept that the fats in breastmilk - which are completely different from the fats in formula - and are given to an infant during the period of fastest growth - might have some impact on cognitive ability?

Why is the view that 'you are what you eat' so acceptable in relation to nutrition EXCEPT when it comes to the sole food of infants? Breast milk and formula are not the same. Why are they expected to have the same effect on the growing body and brain of a child?

"they can usually afford to take time off work, tend to be better educated"

Actually all mothers in the UK get six months maternity leave, and almost all mothers take this. Most women who are still breastfeeding at six months can return to work full time and still continue to breastfeed, as babies are generally on solids by this point and often only breastfeeding a few times in a 24 hour period. In any case, evidence is that women who are most likely to breastfeed in the short, medium and long term are also those women who are most likely to return to work after maternity leave.

And yes, you are right, mothers who breastfeed do tend to be more intelligent than women who don't breastfeed (don't throw rocks at me - this is something that has been thrown up by research), and their children may well inherit this, but even when IQ, education and family income has been controlled for, children who have had long term breastfeeding still appear to gain in IQ over children who have had little or no breastfeeding.

Chunderella - I agree that our diet these days is very far from the diet we have eaten for the bulk of human history. Some people think this is partly responsible for the explosion of cancer, obesity and other horrible diseases that human kind now suffer from ever increasing numbers. Cows (from whose milk formula is made) are largely grain fed now, and of course this is profoundly unnatural and results in them experience higher rates of disease.

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 23:07:38

Surprised at all the people on this thread discussing the impact of ff and bf on the intelligence of their children and relatives.

Ahem, you can't SEE the difference bf makes to intelligence in relation to individuals because all children are not starting from the same point, therefore comparisons are meaningless, unless they involve very large numbers of children and parental income, IQ and education are 'controlled for'. Also, breastfeeding may increase IQ by at most about 5 points. Not to be sneezed at, but but enough to make a visible difference. (though see here for average IQ's for occupations - here a few extra IQ points might make a difference to some children......)

cory Wed 13-Mar-13 23:13:44

I think Chunderella's point was that if our diet was not unnatural, a fair few of us would have starved to death long before we got the chance of developing cancer. Higher cancer rates is one of the prices we pay for no longer having a life expectancy of 30 years. An unnatural diet is a price we pay for being able to raise all our children.

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 23:18:19

"An unnatural diet is a price we pay for being able to raise all our children."

I disagree.

Many countries with much lower rates of income per head don't eat diets as high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugar as in the West.

The massive increase of refined carbohydrates and sugars in the diet has been driven by the food industry.

The saddest thing is that in many developed countries people are eating worse and less nutritious diets than poorer people in developing countries.

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 23:21:43

"So we had to give formula and the MWs who came found every day weren't allowed to advise me on the best formula. Madness!"

It's not madness. They're not supposed to promote a product as being better than other similar products if no evidence exists to back up their recommendation.

And there is no independent comparative testing of formulas which would allow them to give an informed opinion on this issue.

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 23:31:57

"Many are willing to ignore the poorly controlled and contradictory research that shows at best minuscule health risks."

Which particular studies are you referring to that are 'poorly controlled' and shows 'at best' miniscule health risks'?

What about this one?: here

Involved 15890 babies and controlled for a range of confounding factors (see below).

It found that an estimated 53% of diarrhea hospitalizations could have been prevented each month by exclusive breastfeeding and 31% by partial breastfeeding. Similarly, 27% of lower respiratory tract infection hospitalizations could have been prevented each month by exclusive breastfeeding and 25% by partial breastfeeding. The protective effect of breastfeeding for these outcomes wears off soon after breastfeeding cessation.

That doesn't seem 'miniscule' to me. Particularly given that gastric and respitory illness are among the two most common reasons for babies to be admitted to hospital.

(waits for someone to come along and start complaining about people daring to use evidence in support of an argument. What is it? Oh yes 'bandying about dodgy stats' and 'scaremongering'. Stats from Unicef that form the basis for recommendations on infant feeding in the NHS. Dodgy apparently. Scaremongering, apparently. hmm)

[The ORs were adjusted initially for the following variables: birth weight, gestation, mode of delivery, infant's age in months, infant's gender, maternal age in years, whether the infant was first-born, maternal (current) smoking, maternal occupation (coded using the United Kingdom National Statistics Socio-economic Class), maternal education, maternal marital status, and whether the infant lives in rented accommodation. In final models, adjustment was made for variables that were significantly (P < .05) associated with the outcome after adjustment for other variables in the model. ]

RoseandVioletCreams Wed 13-Mar-13 23:34:10


I am EBf this time round and my diet is - OK. However not fab, and I do wonder if baby wouldnt be getting a wider range of nutrients with formula.

Shagmond, I think its good that people stand away from material and studies like Journalists too give a more subjective view of the subject. I think sometimes people cannot see the wood for the trees. I think most people understand that the journalist is just one person, making thier take on the material.

Material generally is something that is able to be taken in lots of ways, that is just the way of things in many areas of life.

One person sees one thing in it - another will come along and see something else.

" Lies, Damn lies and statistics".

Re: Marketing Nitty, I think the big powerful difference is that women are made to feel or may naturally feel guilt if they do not BF. Guilt is a very powerful emotion.

Not many women on the other hand will feel guilty for BF.

Making women feel guilty for not BF is a powerful weapon.

cory Wed 13-Mar-13 23:49:27

Shagmundfreud Wed 13-Mar-13 23:18:19
""An unnatural diet is a price we pay for being able to raise all our children."

I disagree.

Many countries with much lower rates of income per head don't eat diets as high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugar as in the West."

When Chunderella talked of an unnatural diet, she made it quite clear that she meant a diet of cultivated grains and vegetables and farmed animals: as she pointed out, this is not natural in an evolutionary perspective. As I made clear, I was using the word in this context too: a hunter gatherer diet can only keep a very small population alive but is not what we evolved to eat. Neither of us were talking about unhealthy fats and sugars; just about the fact that what seems traditional and healthy to us now has nothing to do with evolution.

Modern medicine is another reason we have to put up with higher rates of cancer and heart disease. A child that dies from an early bacterial infection will not be adding to the cancer statistics later in life. But I am quite glad that dd will survive to encounter this risk. Many countries with lower incomes per head have lower life expectancies too.

Cuddlydragon Wed 13-Mar-13 23:56:36

<<pins medal on shagmund>> feel better now?

smeeeheee Thu 14-Mar-13 03:09:20

Saying that people, especially women, in developing countries have better diets than us Westerners is pretty insulting and more than a little patronising to be honest, and unbelievably naive when you consider how many people in the developing world die from malnutrition and starvation. People in developing countries have significantly reduced life expectancies. The poorer the country you live in, the more likely you are to die of starvation. As many people have pointed out, the reason people in third world countries are less likely to die from cancer, heart disease etc is because they will most likely die young from diseases that are preventable and curable in the west. It's one of the world's most glaring injustices, and I don't really understand what point you're trying to make with it? Is it that the closer humans get to our 'natural state' the better? Cause the evidence blatantly doesn't support that. The less developed the country the lower the life expectancy, the higher the infant mortality rate, the higher the maternal mortality rate. As far as I can see, the closer we get to our 'natural' state, the more brutal and unjust life gets. Life in the developing world is very different to life in the Western world - promoting breastfeeding in countries where access to clean water is very limited, if not nonexistent saves children's lives. In the West, it's totally different. We have the luxury of clean water and safe reliable formula. There are no significant, scientifically researched studies that show formula is dangerous to infants in this country. To imply otherwise is unfair, and frankly downright cruel to mothers who for whatever reason have chosen not breastfeed.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 14-Mar-13 05:24:11

YABU. You sound quite militant and hot under the collar about the BFing message.

Have you tried lentils?

MrsMak Thu 14-Mar-13 08:32:49

I have not managed to read the whole thread yet, but wanted to chip in re formula advertising being everywhere and rammed down throats etc.....

I am newly pregnant with my second baby, after a gap of almost 11 years. I ff my first, and was talking to dh last week trying to remember how I dealt with taking bottles on a day out etc - it was so long ago, i honestly can't remember.

I was in the supermarket last night and had a quick look down the baby isle - was amazed to see that they now do ready made bottles with teats. Surely if ff was rammed down my throat, I would have known about this, and a couple of other things new to ff long before now? Just a thought.

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 10:21:52

shag 15890 babies tested and all the relevant confounding factors controlled for....but don't you get it?

There are woman right here on this very thread who formula fed and their babies and they are fine!

So how the hell can your so called research be right?

I'd rather believe an article an ex-DM jorno spunked out after a late night out than all the medical evidence in the world!

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 10:23:11

Smee - there are large scale, properly constructed studies done in the UK which show that fully ff babies are much more likely to be admitted to hospital with a range of common conditions, than fully breastfed babies. There are studies showing that ff babies make many more GP visits than fully bf babies. Studies involving large numbers of IK babies and which control for parental smoking status, income, education.

There are studies showing bf babies are less likely to die from SIDS and NEC.

You are totally entitled to dismiss the evidence if it makes you feel more comfortable about your choices but for goodness sake, accept that it's not unreasonable for other people who have read it to treat it with seriousness. It forms the basis for NHS recommendations on infant feeding and underpins parent information disseminated by FSIDS - the main UK cot death charity. It's really not 'extreme' or 'fanatical' or 'lactivist' to give these studies some weight.

As for life in developed countries being less brutal - yes, because we have modern medicine and antibiotics to put right the infections that kill babies in other countries. I wonder, if antibiotics weren't available how comfortable people would feel in knowing that ff babies are more prone to infectious illnesses in the first few months because they've been deprived of the protective qualities of breastmilk. .

DuPainDuVinDuFromage Thu 14-Mar-13 10:27:01

YAB totally U, for reasons listed by previous posters. I hate all this bashing of FF when there are all sorts of reasons for not being able to/choosing not to bf sad

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 10:27:15


There are mothers posting on mumsnet who drank too much, smoked and ate crap the whole way through their pregnancies. In all likelihood they will be unable to identify any ill effects in their children from these behaviours. Does this mean that all the research suggesting that smoking, alcohol and poor diet in pregnancy harms babies is false, and we can dismiss it? Of course not. Grow up ffs.

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 10:49:50

shag sorry-thought you would recognise my name....I am a scientist....the whole of my post was tongue firmly in cheek!

ChairmanWow Thu 14-Mar-13 10:52:44

Anyone ever been on one of these threads and walked away with their perspective altered by what has been posted? That's a genuine question.

I'm relatively new to MN and the threads on this subject I've seen tend to end in the same way, often with the same posters. I'd be interested to see if all the time people spend on these threads achieves anything.

I'll start by saying that as a mum who ff (not by choice) I willl still try to bf next time round but have no qualms about giving formula and think it's an excellent alternative. My opinions haven't been changed by anything I've seen on MN.

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 12:35:30

My opinion has been changed by these threads.

I used to believe that the NHS treated people too much like children. I mean adults are perfectly capable of finding information and evaluating it's provenance to reach an informed decision aren't they?

but then people on these threads say things like

"But it's true in saying no benefit has been measured in isolation as that's not possible."
"I was a ff baby and I have no allergies, illness, and I have a bond with my mum. "
"To me, common sense says that something that is natural, additive-free and physiologically the right option, is the right option."

So my opinion of the woman on the street and their reasons for either BFing or FFing changes drastically.

Instead of proposing that women read up and become informed I am now proposing they just do whatever NICE guidelines currently recommend because there is no way woman can be reaching a truly informed decision on anything, while making comments like those...

PickledInAPearTree Thu 14-Mar-13 13:36:12

I try not to read any of them anymore wow.

They all end the same just read one of them and that should see you right.

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 14:25:19

It's a very poor piece of journalism.

smeeeheee Thu 14-Mar-13 14:47:27

shag I'm not dismissing evidence, I'm listening to it. I'm pregnant with my first child, and am fully intending to try breastfeeding. I might not be able to, I might find that it's a massive amount of stress to put myself through at a time that is already likely to be one of the most stressful in my life. You don't have the right to stand on your high horse and tell me that if I choose to formula feed I'm damaging my child. It's insulting. I've read studies and opinions from both sides of the argument, and have come to my own conclusion. I'll give it a go, but refuse to beat myself up about it if it's too difficult. I've decided that, given what I've read, there is very little difference between the two. It's my choice and my right to feed my child as I chose. I make no judgement whatsoever about how other women chose to feed their children as it's none of my damn business. What worries me is the idea that is being put forward by some that formula feeding is somehow dangerous or even life threatening to babies in this country, because from what I've read, it's just not true.

I think you misunderstood what I said about breastfeeding vs. formula in developing countries being a different issue (even then it's still not clear cut, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways of transmitting the HIV virus from mother to baby for example). I really don't understand your point? If it's only western women that don't breastfeed, and breastmilk contains some magical property that protects against all infectious diseases (it doesn't), surely infants in the West would be more likely to suffer life threatening illnesses, not less? I really don't understand your argument at all, and I think you've deliberately misconstrued mine.

It's not that I'm anti breastfeeding, I really am not and I'm looking forward to trying it, but neither am I anti formula. Both are totally valid choices, and women shouldn't be vilified for choosing either... My point is that you can't compare what happens in the West with what happens in the developing world, you are not comparing like with like.

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 15:00:23

ICBINEG - blush Sorry!

It seems to me that people fit their reading and thinking to the decision they make, not the other way around.

Most women with babies over a week old in the UK use formula. By 16 weeks only one in three babies is being breastfed at all.

On the whole women reject information which doesn't appear to support what they want to do when it comes to feeding.

I have had my opinion changed by these threads. I think there is an astonishing amount of mental weirdness going on in relation to this issue.

"I hate all this bashing of FF"

If you enter into a discussion of the the comparative merits of breastfeeding and formula feeding, as this discussion inevitably did in response to the article, it usually means you are going to discuss the underpinning health issues. Quite rightly. And you know, you can't have a sensible discussion about this topic if every time you challenge the view that breastfeeding has no significant benefits you're accused of attacking ff mothers. If it's distressing for you to hear doubts being raised about how safe and healthy formula is, you probably shouldn't engage in discussions about bf vs ff.

If you want to take part, woman-up, stand by your decisions, engage with the facts like a sensible and intelligent adult. Then maybe these debates won't end up disintegrating into accusations of bf facism, and massive 'oh woe is me' blubfests.

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 15:23:35

"I might find that it's a massive amount of stress to put myself through at a time that is already likely to be one of the most stressful in my life".

You might indeed find this. And the less informed and prepared you are, and the more you doubt your ability to do it, the more stressful and difficult you are likely to find it.

"You don't have the right to stand on your high horse and tell me that if I choose to formula feed I'm damaging my child."

Any choice you make might damage your child. Welcome to the world of parenting. How you choose to feed your baby is not a consequence free decision, no matter what you do, breastfeed or formula feed. The science appears to tell us that some babies are harmed by not having breast milk. I appreciate that if you are worried about breastfeeding not working, then it might be hard to accept this, but we don't have to pretend it's not true just to protect your feelings.

"even then it's still not clear cut, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways of transmitting the HIV virus from mother to baby for example"

Actually breastfeeding is a very inefficient way of transmitting HIV if complementary feeding (ie mixed feeding or giving solids) is not taking place. This is why in areas where formula is too expensive to use safely as the sole food for babies, HIV+ mothers are being encouraged to exclusively breastfeed for six months, and then switch completely to formula. This saves lives and results in a HIV transmission rate of less than 4%.

"because from what I've read, it's just not true."

What have you read then? I arrived at my views from reading a range of evidence on this subject including large scale reviews of the evidence, rather than looking at individual studies. and reading shite articles in the Daily Mail. I have a fair amount of trust in UNICEF here who do breastfeeding training, support and accreditation across the NHS and are linked to the World Health Organisation. Who is your trusted source of information on this topic?

"breastmilk contains some magical property that protects against all infectious diseases (it doesn't), surely infants in the West would be more likely to suffer life threatening illnesses, not less?"

Umm, there's nothing 'magical' in breastmilk, just antiviral, antibacterial agents, and ANTIBODIES. You know, those things nature puts in a baby's natural food to compensate for the fact that they are born with immature immune systems and are therefore more vulnerable to infections than older children and adults.

Babies in developing countries who have been innoculated, who live in decent housing, have access to clean water, medical care and parents who are healthy and not starving, are no more vulnerable to infections than Western babies. Less vulnerable in fact, if they are fully breastfed.

UK babies still get respitory illnesses like bronchiolitis, plus ear infections and gastric illness. And fully ff babies get these minor infections more often than fully breastfed babies, which is why as a group they clock up more GP appointments and hospital visits than fully bf babies.

That's not to say you should breastfeed or that your baby will be unwell if you don't. Most babies in the UK are still healthy and happy, even if their diet is not the ideal. This is also true of older children, many of whom in the UK eat god-awful disgusting diets.

rollmopses Thu 14-Mar-13 15:26:54

If mother eats additive-ladden, nutrient-poor processed food, drinks alcohol, smokes and uses drugs whilst breastfeeding - is breast still the best?

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 15:33:04

Smeehee. You don't want to put YOURSELF through the stress?

smeeeheee Thu 14-Mar-13 15:36:45

It might seem to you that people fit their reading to their decision, but all I can say is that I've tried not to to the best of my ability. I certainly can't speak for all other women. "Most babies over a week old in the uk use formula". Yup, that might be true, my point is that that's not a public health issue, and it's not a massive issue that "by 16 weeks only 1 in 3 babies are breastfed at all".

Unfortunately, the stance you've chosen to take is going against the general scientific consensus, and you are doing so in order to support your own belief despite it not being supported by evidence, which seems to be exactly what you are accusing others of doing. That's your right, but in order to make extraordinary claims, you have to be able to produce extraordinary proof, which you haven't done. You can't say things that are patronising and insulting then get all humpty when people are insulted and patronised by them! I very much stand by my decisions, I certainly engage with "the facts" like a "sensible and intelligent adult", your issue seems to be that I just don't agree that what you state are 'facts'. You haven't addressed any of the points I've made even when all I've asked you to do is clarify your stance, all you've done is essentially say that if I don't agree with you I shouldn't engage in the discussion at all. I'm totally confounded by the "woe is me blubfest" comment. I actually just don't understand what you mean, and I assure you I'm not in the slightest bit distressed that you don't agree with me.

PickledInAPearTree Thu 14-Mar-13 15:55:29

Why shouldn't she consider her stress puds?

Why not?

Breastfeeding seems to be the one subject on here where women are expected to plough on with no thought whatsoever for their physical or mental well being or happiness.

I hate the way we have a habit of completely dismissing the welfare of the mother when talking about feeding.

There are TWO (or more, if you have multiples or are tandem feeding) people in a breastfeeding relationship and both need to be happy in order for it to be successful. Not as facile as 'happy mum happy baby', of course, but each individual must be considered. If it's not working for one, something needs to be done about it.

I have breastfed for 10 months now and am delighted. Do I love breastfeeding? Not exactly, but it works for us so that's great. Contrast that with a friend who had such a rough time that she was a suicide risk until she moved to bottlefeeding. Surely no one could judge her for doing that despite her son thriving on breastfeeding but this is the internet so I wouldn't be surprised

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 16:34:06

"If mother eats additive-ladden, nutrient-poor processed food, drinks alcohol, smokes and uses drugs whilst breastfeeding - is breast still the best?"

Depends how much she's drinking, and what drugs she's using.

Even mothers who are eating poor quality food produce good quality milk for their babies. Find out more here: here

"my point is that that's not a public health issue, and it's not a massive issue that "by 16 weeks only 1 in 3 babies are breastfed at all"

If a suboptimal diet for the majority of UK babies is resulting in millions of extra pounds cost to the NHS (through increased gp visits and hospital admissions), and death and disability to more babies through extra cases of SIDS and NEC then I think it IS a health issue.

"Unfortunately, the stance you've chosen to take is going against the general scientific consensus"

Are you arguing that the evidence on which all current NHS recommendations on infant feeding are based is irrelevant and flawed and there is a consensus on this? Perhaps you should write and tell the health secretary that a whole swathe of NHS practice is based on irrelevant and flawed research. Because they don't currently seem to be aware of this fact in relation to infant feeding.

And maybe while you're at it, you could link me through to information you've found indicating that the major medical organisations - the NHS, the RCOG, the RCM, the RCP, and maybe the American Academy of Paediatrics, share the consensus you believe exists, that there are no significant benefits to breastfeeding. As far as I can see they all believe the opposite.

*NHS Choices*:
Breastfeeding is good for babies. Breastfed babies have:
less chance of diarrhoea and vomiting and having to go to hospital as a result
fewer chest and ear infections and having to go to hospital as a result
less chance of being constipated
less likelihood of becoming obese and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life

American Academy of Pediatrics
Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice. Pediatricians play a critical role in their practices and communities as advocates of breastfeeding and thus should be knowledgeable about the health risks of not breastfeeding.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
"Breast-feeding gives babies a head start. We encourage all new mums to breast-feed and ask their families and healthcare professionals to support them in this choice. Breast-fed babies are at reduced risk of several types of infection.It is highly likely that breast-feeding provides many additional health benefits.

But apparently a consensus exists that this is not a public health issue and there is general agreement that breastfeeding doesn't benefit babies.

Seriously - what planet are on that you think there is a consensus on this issue when all the major health organisations are saying NOTHING OF THE SORT.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 16:35:57

Smee, I may have misunderstood you, in fact I hope I have, but are you suggesting that thinking breastfeeding is best for a baby is going against the general scientific consensus?

"Unfortunately, the stance you've chosen to take is going against the general scientific consensus, and you are doing so in order to support your own belief despite it not being supported by evidence"

I think the general consensus IS that breastfeeding is nutritionally superior and better for a baby's health than formula - there is a huge body of evidence to support this- but if you know better, you'd better get in touch with the WHO, and all the other governments and organisations who promote BFing as they've obviously got it wrong, too, in thinking breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby!

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 16:38:32

"I hate the way we have a habit of completely dismissing the welfare of the mother when talking about feeding."


NOBODY is doing this.

This is a straw man argument.

Even the most enthusiastic advocates of breastfeeding acknowledge that some mothers can't cope emotionally with breastfeeding and for these mothers there is no option but to stop.

Arguing that breastfeeding is important to babies is not the same as arguing that all babies should be breastfed NO MATTER WHAT.

And it bloody pisses me off that all arguments in support of breastfeeding being important and beneficial for babies are interpreted as an attack on mothers who won't or can't breastfeed. It's so bloody unhelpful.

I think this stance is used over and over again on mumsnet to try to stifle the debate. sad

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 16:44:28

"Breastfeeding seems to be the one subject on here where women are expected to plough on with no thought whatsoever for their physical or mental well being or happiness."

I don't agree. I don't know anyone who believes this.

But the question we should all be asking is what is going on in the UK that such incredibly high numbers of mothers are finding breastfeeding physically and emotionally unsupportable? It's not intrinsic to breastfeeding per se. If it was we'd find similar rates of rejection of breastfeeding across all ages, social classes and nationalities. And actually this really isn't the case. It's a cultural issue. There is something about being a mother in the UK that makes breastfeeding not feasible for us. What is it?

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 17:03:02

Of course breastfeeding is going to be bloody stressful! You're on tap for your baby 24/7. It's hard work.

Surely though knowing it's the best for your child you put yourself through a degree of stress. Personally I suffered severe postnatal anxiety - probably compounded through lack of sleep and hormones - but still it was not an option to me to give up knowing it was what was best nutritionally for my son (this is medical fact.)

I'm not advocating ploughing on at all costs. However Smee in my opinion it's worth 'stress' on your part. It's not going to be easy.

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 17:10:54

Good on you for planning to give it a go though.

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 17:14:38

shag no is telling in and of itself that my parody could and does turn up for real regularly!

Likewise I know of know one being told that in their specific case they should breast feed regardless of the mothers wishes.

BF is best on average. This tells you nothing of individual circumstances, and as I said, I have never heard of someone being forced.

Highlander Thu 14-Mar-13 17:15:42

Breast is not globally best.

Breast is normal, which may be best for some women and babies..... But formula may be best for others.

Highlander Thu 14-Mar-13 17:16:48

...... And I say that as someone who exclusively BFd 2 children until they were 18 months and 2.4 respectively.

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 17:21:54

Are we talking about what's best for mum or best for the baby?

Not always best for the mother - clearly. But nutritionally for the child it is the best.

stickygotstuck Thu 14-Mar-13 17:37:04

I avoid BF/FF posts like the plague, but I must say this.

I have never met any FF mothers who judge BF mothers negatively.
Conversely, I met plenty of BF mothers who do judge FF mothers VERY negatively. And I have met plenty of FF mothers who were driven to severe depression and worse because of the general disapproval of their 'choice' (even when the 'choice' was to let their babies starve).

In the UK, in the present day, I really don't think advertising makes such a big difference in people deciding whether to go for one or the other. Women have "proper" reasons for their choices.

In answer to the original question, in my experience, the BF message is rammed down women's throats much more 'violently' in the here and now. In my mix-feeding days, I could clearly feel a "breast fundamentalism" coming from certain quarters (which I can only assume OP belongs to), and it has done more real harm to both mothers and babies than FF ever could (in this country, at present).

Can I also say - a severely depressed/suicidal mother is FAR WORSE for a baby than FF ever could (anywhere, anytime).

Shagmund - the livejournal communities are full of exactly what I'm talking about, I'm afraid.

Jengnr Thu 14-Mar-13 17:59:04

Anyone who thinks ff is pushed anywhere really can't have had a baby.

I registered on the Aptamil website recently to find out some product information and every fucking page is full of BF bumf before you can go anywhere. Ditto the emails they send.

Seriously, why would anyone want to use the Aptamil website for that??

It does stick in the craw a bit though when you start being told by HCPs that from 6 months follow-on is better as it has more nutrients than breastmilk which declines in quality quickly.

(Yes, I made a complaint.)

PickledInAPearTree Thu 14-Mar-13 18:15:33

I was told recently that I need to give ds two large bottles if formula per day as some women (sympathetic look) don't have the best quality milk. And am I eating ok?

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 19:06:28

"who were driven to severe depression and worse because of the general disapproval of their 'choice' (even when the 'choice' was to let their babies starve)."

Yes, because breastfeeding advocates are so evil they'd rather babies were DEAD than formula fed.

<hands pitchfork to to sticky>

Weird. I've been an enthusiastic bf advocate for YEARS, have met hundreds of others, and have only heard one very young and stoopid bf peer supporter trainee express the view - fairly timidly - that she thought it was selfish not to breastfeed. She was immediately shot down in flames by everyone else.

"Women have "proper" reasons for their choices."

Out of interest, why do you think older and more educated mothers choose to breastfeed and breastfeed longer. What do you think accounts for them having fewer reasons not to breastfeed? They're also the group most likely to go back to work after having a baby, and the group most likely to have had difficult births and pre-existing health conditions. And yet as a group, they seem to find fewer reasons not to breastfeed.

Asian and African women in the UK seem to have fewer reasons not to breastfeed too.

T'is all very interesting to me.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 19:17:04

Shagmund it's the use of the term 'think' again that's key. People^ think^ our diet might be responsible for various diseases, though not with the benefit of any evidence about their prevalence back when we ate as we had evolved to. So it's a guess, no more. Not knowledge. In the same way it's common sense that tells us breast is best, that it's reasonable to assume that breast milk rather than other social advantages is what leads to bf babies doing better, even though we just don't know how the poorest would do if they were EBF. There are problems with the article, but the writer was entirely correct to point this out.

For some people, association and assumption is enough to persuade them of the benefits of bf- you're clearly one and I wouldn't criticize anyone for that. It's a valid view and you may be correct. However, it's a hypothesis only, and so the problem comes when people pretend it's more than that and assert that we know more than we do. And hypothesizing is exactly what ff mothers are doing when they look at all the thriving ff babies they've encountered and all the ff babies who grew up into healthy adults, and use their common sense to assume their babies will be fine too. Both of these positions are assumptions (regardless of what the NHS, AAP etc have to say about it, unless they have access to RCTs they're not sharing with the rest of us) and that will remain the case as long as we're unable to establish causation. I can see how your view may have had more force before we knew how people given formula instead of bm would do, although fuck knows they often fed babies some pretty inappropriate shit way before then so maybe it wouldn't have. But the cat's out of the bag, even for those of us who grew up seeing loads of BF around us.

Oh and regarding countries eating less refined crap than in the West, yes but they're still not eating as we evolved to eat. Only a very small percentage of the human population still do that. And it requires more land to feed a human that type of wild diet than modern methods of farming do, even with all organic produce. So yes, if the post-agriculturalization diet does cause cancer, it's the price we pay for more of us not starving. the planet couldn't feed us all our 'natural' diet.

rottentomatoes Thu 14-Mar-13 19:24:09

I think that is one of the best posts I have ever read on here on this subject.
Totally objective.

RoseandVioletCreams Thu 14-Mar-13 19:33:51

I think Chunderella is one of the most intellegent ladies ever, we are so lucky she is a mums netter and posts here with her wonderfully wise words.

I always find her posts to be so well written, eloquent, informative and gentle. smile

The come as a relief to some other posters who rear thier heads on these subjects. sad

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 19:43:19

That's funny, because I read Chunderella's post as one from someone who is absolutely, blindly determined not to concede that breastfeeding is the healthiest and most nutritious way to feed your baby, despite all the evidence to prove this.

The cat is not out of the bag, I'm afraid, fashionable as it may currently be to rubbish the benefits of breastfeeding. Scientists are constantly discovering new ways that breastfeeding and new amazing facts about its composition; there is still a lot we don't know about breast milk, but we do know that it is a living substance that cannot be replicated by formula milk and its man-made ingredients.

Just one of the amazing things it does, for example, is to coat the gut of a new born baby and provide passive immunity for the baby in a way that formula cannot. It is an amazing substance.

I do not think that governments and major health organisations are so stupid and ill informed that they are putting their all into recommending a substance whose superiority is just a hypotheses, much as you would perhaps like that to be true.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 19:43:49

that breastfeeding benefits babies, I meant to say!

cervantes55 Thu 14-Mar-13 19:44:40

Is it possible that governments choose to promote it so heavily because it costs so little to do so, and involves almost no clinical expenditure (although they could do so much more to support women post-birth!) so why wouldn't you. If the proven benefits are assessable on a macro level only in any case, then it's exactly macro-level health care providers who stand to gain from these benefits bearing out in reality. Eg a 10% reduction in likelihood of x illness means a lot of breastfed babies still get the illness but does lead to a 10% reduction in babies overall getting the illness and the related costs of care for the healthcare provider. On an individual basis, you could breastfeed til the cows come home and see none of the benefits because of other factors. So in some ways I think it's a leap of faith.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 19:45:13

And extolling the benefits of breastfeeding does NOT = denigrating women who bottle feed and trying to make them feel guilty! It just does not! It may make them feel guilty, and that is of course something they should not feel - but that is nobody's aim.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 19:48:09

Last time I looked cervantes, producing marketing materials - flyers, DVDs, websites, then paying for the distribution of these plus paying for training of breastfeeding counsellors and all the other activity the government takes part in to promote BFing was certainly not a low cost activity, and in these times of austerity I'm sure if there was the slightest whiff that this was all a waste of time, they would use the money elsewhere.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 19:49:11

You're all being far too kind, honestly. I bit my own cheek earlier today. I am not so smart! What I am, though, is a pro-choice fundamentalist and no opponent of bf either. Women have the right to know what the science says, not to have people pretend that it says nothing at all or that correlation equals causation. And to choose how to feed our babies. We are shamed for bf in public, for not wanting to bf because we see our breasts as sexual, for bf longer than other people think is appropriate even though it's nobody else's business and there's no proof extended bf is remotely harmful, for thinking that our own discomfort is as important as the possibility of our choice causing some to our child. There is no feeding choice a woman can make that will not get her a pillorying from someone. Fuck that. All this is two sides of the same oppressive coin. We may not know much for certain where infant feeding is concerned, but we damn well know that.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 14-Mar-13 19:50:24

It would be nice if, instead of merely promoting breastfeeding, the health service could give help and support right at the beginning, on the wards.

While that is not in place, it is not the best thing for many mothers (extrapolates wildly from own experience), because extolling its virtues without that support creates a great deal of anxiety, angst and guilt, and a hangover of negativity about the whole thing.

Theres's this cognitive dissonance about breastfeeding than leads people to extreme emotional reactions to it. It's not wonderful, nor is it poisonous.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 14-Mar-13 19:52:35

Sorry, i meant bf is not necessarily wonderful, nor is FF poisonous

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 19:52:52

Chunderella, in fact it is often breastfeeding women who are shamed in public, not ones who bottlefeed. I find your tone very patronising towards women in general and quite arrogant actually when you say they have the 'right to know what the science says' - and you are going to be the one to put everyone in the picture, are you? Because you know better than everyone else?

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 19:53:29

jamie, I agree with that, I think more support is definitely needed.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 20:00:42

Cervantes yes I think that's basically it. Promoting BF probably won't do much harm, maybe shame a few women but eh they're only women, and it might do lots of good if indeed ff causes worse health outcomes rather than being associated with them. So that's why the NHS et al go down that road. It's potential big gain for not much pain. And that's fine, provided they don't actively lie like they did when they pretended there was no safe limit for alcohol during pregnancy. No argument there. I think even people who believe that bf causes health benefits usually admit that the differences are pretty minute on an individual level, but they'd be significant at the population level.

Cherry perhaps you'd care to point out where I rubbished the science. I seem to remember directly quoting it. Maybe you should take your argument up with the authors of the 2007 study for saying bf was associated with benefits, rather than causing them. By 'the cat is out of the bag' I meant that ff babies are overwhelmingly healthy and grow up to be so, as even some bf advocates on this thread have admitted. I'm sure we all know that formula doesn't directly replicate everything that's in BM. However, that's not the same as knowing that a baby will be worse off for not having some of it. And sorry, but without RCTs and with us so totally unaware of how the poorest babies would be doing if EBF'd, a hypothesis is exactly what it is. Hey, I don't make the rules.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 20:06:25

Did you miss the part in my post where I said bf women are often shamed in public cherry? But if you think ff women aren't shamed either, you haven't read enough feeding threads on MN. And no, I don't think I'm the one to put everyone in the picture. I am not a public health educator and have no desire to be one- I advocate women reading the studies themselves. But I do know what the science says, evidently more than you do if you think I misrepresent it. Perhaps start with the 2007 study linked to upthread, which either you haven't read or didn't focus on the bits that said 'associated with' not 'caused'.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 20:06:56

Chunderella, you don't want to believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Perhaps you'd like to tell the parents of tiny babies in the special care units who would have died without breastmilk and its unique protection, that differences are minute, and it's all a hypothesis.

I certainly don't have time to sit here all evening and try to convince you. You don't make the rules, thankfully, but you certainly seem grimly determined not to give an inch here.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 20:08:54

You are determined to cling on to this, chunderella. Yes, the language used is 'associated with' not 'caused'. Given however that the researchers controlled for confounding factors and still found a big difference in the health outcomes between breastfed and formula fed babies, I think we can reasonably and intelligently assume that breastfeeding must be playing a part somewhere?

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 20:11:37

I notice, too, that you are studiously ignoring this, despite Shagmund referring to it earlier.

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 20:34:05

I agree with Cherry. Too tired to formulate own words.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 20:48:51

And here we go again Cherry, assuming. Not knowing. I'm glad you now acknowledge what you're actually doing. Regarding the study you mention, I wasn't ignoring it I hadn't seen it mentioned. Regarding the 2007 study that I mentioned, not all of the data they looked at had attempted to control for confounding factors actually. Though the authors took this into account. However, saying you have controlled and actually having done it are two different things. That's particularly problematic in a UK context because so few of the most deprived babies are EBF. meaning you can't actually know how they'd be doing if they were, so all you can do is make an educated guess. You know I assume that BF quite closely correlates with maternal education, family wealth- class, basically. And we live in a society where your social class makes a huge difference to your health, your educational attainment and nearly everything really. Which leaves us with the problem of how to work out how many of the advantages that BF babies have are down to them being disproportionately middle class, and how many aren't. So no, I won't budge on the fact that we don't know how the poorest babies would do if they were EBF'd. Because we don't. And it's hardly my fault that modern medical ethics prevent RCTs for infant feeding- which is a good thing, anyway.

As for not wanting to believe in the benefits of bf, I'd believe in them if we had proof of causation. You mention premature babies: I do find the evidence for this more persuasive because there aren't as many social factors to control for. Obviously, we know that premature babies fed bm do better than those fed formula even whilst still in hospital. This is significant because presumably babies in the same SCBU are receiving the same care, regardless of social class. Sure, the professional parents might get patronised less than the teenagers, but I know of no evidence that that in itself would have an impact on the baby's care. Now, social class would still play a part because it does so even in utero. But with premature babies who are all being given the same care, it obviously is less important than with babies who are with their parents of different backgrounds. There aren't as many social factors to control for, basically. So that makes it more likely that bm is what's causing the babies to do better. Whether this is a factor that mothers of babies who aren't premature need to take into account is another issue altogether.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 21:00:06

OK, chunderella ... also too tired to formulate any more words. Believe what you want to believe - I think you're fighting a losing battle though as it's pretty much universally accepted by people with a lot more knowledge and smarts than you I dare say that breastfeeding is extremely beneficial for babies and mothers.

crashdoll Thu 14-Mar-13 21:00:50

Disclaimer: I'm not yet a parent, so have no axe to grind.

I skim over these threads and there are a couple of names who always appear, posters desperately peddling their view and how it is right and the only way.

For those who judge FFers, (and despite what some may say, there are judgments on this thread) I might pop over and see how you feed your older children. I wouldn't outwardly say anything like "why do you let your children eat X cereal? It's full of shit and they'll be grumpy by 10 am, not to mention at higher risk of catching a cold" but I might say "oh I feed my children Y cereal which is full of nutrients which help at school, must be why they're top of the class and haven't missed a single day ever". I might quote some studies and still hammer my point even if you say you can't afford the cereal or your children prefer toast.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 21:13:12

And now for the article you mentioned.

I agree that if research could demonstrate that the positive outcomes were down to bf, there'd be a strong case for public policy to encourage bf. I think there's a case for it even in the absence of such knowledge, as it probably won't do much harm and could do lots of good. Obviously such policy must be evidenced based though, and by that I mean tell us what the evidence actually says not what we assume it does. I concur that lots of external factors influence a woman's likelihood of bf, BFI hospitals being one of them. That doesn't tell us whether social class or bf causes benefits. I'm aware that some studies claim they control for social factors, but like some other studies I don't consider that it can be done reliably enough for us to know, as opposed to assume, that the benefits are associated with bf. I note that ALSPAC in the 90s looked at babies who were similar, not the same, so the term 'twinning' is perhaps not the one I'd have picked unless I were trying to make my research look more like an RCT than it really was. I note that some of the studies mentioned in your article don't claim to have established causation, and agree that they have not. And I agree with the article's conclusion that the studies mentioned demonstrate that bf may have significant benefits. However, this does not mean that bf does have a significant role to play in reducing inequality, it means it might.

Snowfedup Thu 14-Mar-13 21:19:16

Chunderella I would give up if I were you it is like trying to discuss evidence for/against the existence of god with theists. These people 'believe' bfing is the only choice therefore no amount of rational evidence will persuade them otherwise !

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 21:22:01

Still waiting for the rational evidence snowfedup.....

Yes, we do believe breastfeeding is the best choice for babies, as it has been proven to be time and again, though obviously Chunderella is about to rock the world of science with her revelations that the cat is out the bag and we've all been sold a huge lie. I'd start by emailing those clever bods at the University of Essex to tell them they've got it all wrong!

RoseandVioletCreams Thu 14-Mar-13 21:22:28

crashdoll -

I really hope if some posters do indeed have DC that they are all living advocates of the choices they vocalise here, model students, a healthy weight, etc etc etc.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 21:27:30

I'll do that as soon as you email everyone who's authored a study saying bf is associated or correlated with certain benefits Cherry, and tell them that in your learned opinion they should have used the word 'caused' instead. You can start with the guys who did the big 2007 analysis. Can't help noticing here that only one of us appears to have actually read and engaged with the literature, though.

cherryvanillajam Thu 14-Mar-13 21:32:50

I've read it Chunderella, and taken it in. It's you that seems determined to cherry pick the parts of the literature that suit your argument. However, I really am tired now and know that no study could possibly convince you of the benefits of breastfeeding, because for your own reasons you don't seem to want to know.

I FF my eldest by the way, and was FF myself. But it is very clear to me that breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby - it amazes me that there are those who are simply determined to believe otherwise. I suggest those people direct their energies into something positive such as better support for BFing mothers rather than gleefully picking apart respected and well thought out research, seeking nuances in the language used and ignoring important parts to draw their own skewed conclusions.

ChairmanWow Thu 14-Mar-13 21:37:26

crashdoll exactly the same point you raised was posted on yet another feeding thread a couple of weeks ago. As you might imagine there was some brief discussion then it was back to the judgy stuff. As I said in a previous post I'm quite new to MN but staggered by the fact that the same posters come back and post almost the same points on different threads. It's nice when a voice of reason like yours pops up smile

I really don't think threads like these help the debate tbh. Evidence and counter-evidence get slung around until the salient points are lost. Meanwhile anyone who came looking for advice or info gets stuck in the middle.

WaterfallsOver Thu 14-Mar-13 21:38:10

Yanbu, formula companies would love to see breastfeeding decline even further.

Zara1984 Thu 14-Mar-13 21:40:59

These bf/ff threads are Zombie Threads I've decided. It's like a race to see who can link to the most studies/external websites. grin

Instead of braiiiiiins it's liiiiiiinks! Liiiiinks!

WhatsTheBuzz Thu 14-Mar-13 21:48:25

why would bfing upset anyone enough to write that? What actually is
wrong with it? Because as far as I can see, this pointless article
doesn't, in any way, say that bfing will have a negative effect on a
baby... which we all knew already.

Chunderella Thu 14-Mar-13 21:50:24

Cherry the difference in whether something is described as caused by or associated with really isn't a semantic one. They mean two totally different things.

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 21:52:22

Surely it's like comparing a healthy diet of fruit and veg with a lab-made vitamin-fortified-for-all-your-needs milkshake?

What's better?

Not on about social/emotional aspects. There are reasons women feel they need to stop/not do it for their wellbeing. It's a two way thing breastfeeding isn't it?

Not on about sub standard breast milk either, or if there's not enough breast milk.

Just optimum breast milk v formula. In that respect it's better. That's fact.

WhatsTheBuzz Thu 14-Mar-13 21:57:00

have no problem with ff, I intend to use it to 'top-up' my rapidly
growing 13wo, but can anyone who has a 'so there' attitude re the
article tell me, why is ff BETTER than bf?

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 22:23:41

Ooh good point Whatsthebuzz

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 22:24:28

Like you mean it's not to be condemned/vilified but silly to hold it ABOVE BFing?

Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 22:35:13

I don't think anyone is saying that ff is better than bf, but there are some benefits that you don't get with bf... Dads being able to do some of the feeds, takes less time, you know exactly how much they've had etc.

The issue seems to be that the bf team can't admit that there are these benefits and they can't see that bf is not best for all babies. I cant be bothered to go into my whole sorry story but my GP told me that bf was killing my baby (her actual words) so dd was ff. It irks me that the pro-Breastfeeding folks can't see how militant and patronising they are, especially to those of us that desperately wanted to bf.

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 22:46:28

Surely though there's no denying the nutritional benefits of optimum breast milk v formula. But when other factors come into play perhaps BFing not always best in that way - eg. low supply.

So yes always (nutritionally) best (for baby) if no problem with supply/quality.

No not always best for mother due to wellbeing etc - which could of course impact on the baby.

Is that fair?

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 22:55:56

Can they not sell sterilised breastmilk? Oh dear God I'll make millions rubs hands

Mylittlepuds Thu 14-Mar-13 22:56:18
Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 22:58:27

I probably agree with that LittlePuds, so long as milk is optimum and baby has no allergies....

My stance is that bf is best if there is no problem with supply/well being of mum and milk suits baby etc. but at the end of the day, it's a personal choice and no one should cop any flak for choosing a path someone else disagrees with.

When my dd was essentially starving to death, support lines at 2 very well known organisations said things to me such as "one bottle of formula will destroy baby's stomach lining forever", "if you don't bf for 4 months exclusively, you might as well not have bothered", "if you give her one bottle, she will never be able to latch on"...

These are the people I consider the breastapo (and I know that people find the term offensive, but I'm still extremely angry about it). There has to come a point where even the most hardened Breastfeeding advocate recognises that a child needs more than this particular mum's breast milk....

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 23:11:27

Carolra - please say which organisations these were. They record many of their phone calls so there may be evidence of you being given this information. You need to make a formal complaint.

"So yes always (nutritionally) best (for baby) if no problem with supply/quality."

98% of Norweigan babies leave hospital breastfeeding.

80% of babies are still having their mother's milk at 6 months of age.

And this is in a country which had breastfeeding rates as low as ours a couple of decades ago.

Why do you think it is that most women in Norway can breastfeed, whereas most women in the UK seem unable to?

Why do so many women in the UK find breastfeeding emotionally traumatising, when most women around the world don't experience this?

"my GP told me that bf was killing my baby (her actual words) so dd was ff"

Was that before or after she'd/he'd referred you to a lactation consultant for a proper investigation of what was going wrong with breastfeeding? Did he/she suggest any reasons why your supply was low, or what to do about it? hmm

Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 23:20:37

I don't want to name organisations because I'm having meetings with the CEO of one at the moment as they're so concerned about stories like mine (I am not alone!)

We spent over £1000 on lactation consultants, breast feeding doulas, tongue tie treatment, cranial osteopathy, fenugreek and other supplements, acupuncture, books etc. I went to support groups every day. There is nothing that anyone will ever be able to say to make me even doubt for one second that Aptamil was the best thing that happened to my dd!!

And interestingly, our local health centre recommend that bf babies start taking vitamins at 6 months, but ff babies don't need to till they're a year.... So perhaps there is an argument somewhere there for ff being better than bf...?

Shagmundfreud Thu 14-Mar-13 23:25:51

Breastfeeding has evolved over millions of years to be a safe way to feed the vast majority of babies.

Formula is, in terms of the history of human evolution and human nutrition, an INCREDIBLY recent development. I'm astonished that breastfeeding is still having to prove itself, but it's taken on trust that formula is completely safe, and is (often, according to many of the posters on this thread) a better and more reliable way to feed babies than breast milk. Because where are the studies, peer reviewed, RCT's, involving large numbers of babies followed up in the long term, that clearly show no disadvantages of artificial feeding for humans as they grow into adulthood? Studies that use exclusively breastfed babies as the control group? I've not seen any. Has anyone else? If not, are you entirely happy for your babies to be taking part in what amounts to a giant, uncontrolled experiment?

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 14-Mar-13 23:28:27

I'm another one who took fenugreek, expressed after every feed and went to a breastfeeding clinic.

Made bugger all difference to my milk supply. If I was lucky I managed to express an ounce a day.

Why is it so hard to understand that for some ff isn't a choice but a necessity, rather than a starving baby.

cherrycherry41 Thu 14-Mar-13 23:39:51

ooh, this thread was fun to read! grin
bit of bedtime reading, night all!

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 23:44:52

Carola There is data that shows correlation between the vitamin supplementation in formula (iron specifically) and lower IQ, so I wouldn't be too keen to support the vitamin content of formula over that of BM.

It seriously pisses me off that they added extra iron as a marketing gimmick without doing any sort of trial to look for adverse effects. It's almost like they value market share over safety or something...

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 23:46:57

pobble who is finding it hard to understand?

Both myself and Shag have stated outright that FF can be the right choice for specific mother/baby combinations.

Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 23:47:14

Had my dd been born into a society without formula, she would have been wet nursed or she would have died. I couldn't find a wet nurse (although my mum did offer to try, we politely declined, she's post menopausal and hasn't lactated for 30 years). Would I rather dd be part of a big experiment or be dead?! Silly question.

You see... This just takes me back to my previous point, that no matter what evidence is placed before a Breastfeeding zealot, they still can't admit that ff is better for some babies. Which leads to name calling like the breastapo, which leads to Breastfeeding being regarded badly, which leads to fewer people Breastfeeding. And what a shame that is.

Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 23:48:21

P.s I don't care about the vitamin thing at all, I was just being controversial.

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 23:49:30

carola can you actually read? How many times does we need to say it? FF can be the right choice for any number of reasons.

Why does that mean that FF companies shouldn't have to demonstrate that their latest ohhh look what we added magic ingredient is actually safe and not detrimental to childrens development?

Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 23:50:03


ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 23:51:18

Well I am glad you don't care about what effect the random shit currently being added to formula will have but I think mothers and babies deserve better.

Carolra Thu 14-Mar-13 23:52:27

Oh don't be so silly (that should have said). Formula companies are regulated in this country. There's no need to get nasty!

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 23:56:47

currently it's all about random synthetic oligosaccharides ....great...and have they actually tested those? Nah coz it's a food stuff and found naturally in other foods so they don't have to.

But hey if it grabs some market share then why not? What's the worst that can happen?

ICBINEG Thu 14-Mar-13 23:58:47

There should be a burden of proof on formula companies that any new additive be tested for negative side affects.

Carolra Fri 15-Mar-13 00:01:09

Seriously. No formula equals my dead baby. And for me, that's the worst thing that could happen.

I really think that if you want to help promote Breastfeeding, you need to climb off that soap box, cause you just sound a bit scary and obsessed. If I were a new mum trying to breastfeed, you'd terrify me.... Ok not, so you don't, but I do wonder if there is a more positive way to channel this aggression...?

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 00:03:51

I honestly don't understand.

Circumstance has forced you to rely on this product. Why would you also not be advocating that it be properly tested and not subject to trend based random additives?

Carolra Fri 15-Mar-13 00:09:36

Of course every mum wants the food she gives her baby to be safe. Campaigning for food safety is really a separate issue that applies to all areas of the sector (horse burger anyone?) Although its sad to see the use of scare tactics in support of Breastfeeding. It's not the way I'd go about it personally....

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 00:16:36

Well if you can remember back that far it was you that started the 'scare tactics' by saying that BM had less vitamins. I was simply pointing out that less may actually be better.

One day FM will be better than BM for nutrition, for anti-viral activity, for everything. Because that is how progress works. What I would hate to see happen - and what already may have happened with the iron additives - is that in their attempts to get there first (and hence make more money) the companies will cut some important corner and cause a lot of heart ache and misery to parents and children.

Formula is regulated, of course it is. But as a food. So they could put in honey, peanuts, strawberries and any other food based material into the milk and not have to jump through any hoops at all. You wouldn't give those things to your newborn unless you knew they were safe. So why should the formula companies not have to pass the same test?

Carolra Fri 15-Mar-13 00:23:50

I absolutely did not say bm has less [sic] vitamins. I just mentioned the advice that is given at my health clinic and let everyone infer what they liked from it.... And you chose to think it meant that bm has fewer vitamins... Funny that....

I guess the government has decided that these tests aren't warranted... But that would be an issue for your MP...

Carolra Fri 15-Mar-13 00:24:42

Fun as this has been, I'm going to bed! Good night all!!

wannaBe Fri 15-Mar-13 00:35:18

why the fuck does anyone care? Feed your baby whatever you want to feed your baby be that breastmilk or formula, as long as your baby is happy and you're happy with your choice of feeding what business is it of yours how anyone else feeds theirs.

This isn't the third world where formula feeding can be harmful (not due to the formula but the contaminated water) this is the western world where we have access to adequate water and sanitation and sterilising facilities and where babies do thrive on formula.

Honestly all this breast is best crap doesn't send out a positive message at all.

Oh and the lower IQ myth is bollocks.

Personally I do care because there are a hell of a lot of women out there who wanted to breastfeed and had to, for whatever reason, stop before they were ready to. The NHS hammers home that breast is best - and I agree - but gives mothers precious little support in trying to establish breastfeeding. Just look at all of us who've been given terrible and/or contradictory advice by midwives and HVs.

It's an absolute disgrace that my local hospital is home to the first breastfeeding clinic and yet they're talking about a timeframe of 8 years for the hospital to achieve UNICEF Babyfriendly status.

The long and the short of it is that I am pro-breastfeeding but completely understand that formula can save lives or the quality thereof. I don't much care how you feed your baby but I do care how you feel about it.

Early morning marking place on interesting thread. Back later ?
brew calls !

munchkinmaster Fri 15-Mar-13 06:54:46

I have to say I find the posters saying ff/bf is only correlated with this or that a little obtuse. Yes the science is correlational, there are confounding factors which are hard to statistically control for. But for ethical reasons a randomised control trial is impossible. These are the only type of evidence we will get. By all means criticise the flaws in the individual study but don't sit there and say you will ignore an accumulation of evidence till you get an RCT because that is being deliberately belligerent.

My first thoughts are that no we haven't got things right for mothers and babies in this country yet regarding giving all mothers the support they need for either BFing or FFing or any combination of those at any point.

But I think a big factor in that is the irresponsibilty of the FF manufacturers.
To see how un-ethical they are you only have to hear a little of the situation in developing countries. They only behave slightly better here because of strict regulations. So sadly we aren't in a situation where everyone has the new mother and baby's best interests at heart. That makes everything more complicated.

Support for new mothers generally needs to be better resourced and better thought through. It is such an important time in the mother and baby's life, as well as for the whole extended family.

Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 08:36:17

"All this breast is best crap"

Dear Lord!

ICBINEG - You say "one day FM will be better than BM for nutrition" ...

well I don't think that will ever happen because breast-milk is naturally the best nutrition for babies. Mothers and babies bodies can be in tune with each other so that the milk the mother makes can be adapted in an individual way according to her baby's needs. FF manufacturers will never be able to replicate that, or many of the subtle qualities and benefits of breast-milk that we don't even understand yet.
Nor will they be motivated to do this as they are only interested in selling their product. So, if they can make mothers buy the product by claiming it contains X, Y and Z vitamins they will do that, without that necessarily being the best formula they can possibly make, or the closest to breast-milk. It's all about image, sales, and unit cost of production. It's a business not a service, even though sometimes the product is useful and even necessary to some people and babies.

Snowfedup Fri 15-Mar-13 09:24:19

I just wish some of you would realise that my inability to breastfeed ( I did try ) has absolutely nothing to do with formula companies or advertising and you really insult my intelligence by suggesting that in the uk at least the low bfing rates are caused by formula advertising.

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 09:29:06

snow I just wish you would realise that while advertising does indeed affect some peoples choices, no one anywhere here on this thread or in RL thinks that you specifically were influenced.

it isn't all about you, oddly.

Snowfedup Fri 15-Mar-13 09:34:03

Sorry I meant to say that I suspect I am not the only one who feels this way !

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 09:43:24

Yes. There will be lots of people who are impervious to advertising and committed to making an informed choice. But equally there are lots of people who are influenced by advertising and are therefore not making an informed choice.

Banning advertising would help people who don't currently to make a more informed choice and presumably make sweet FA difference to those people who were already ignoring it.

I am not sure why said people who already ignore adverts should feel put upon because the elimination of advertising would boost BF rates?

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 09:52:00

Munchkinmaster, I suspect your post was aimed at me. You'll note that I've already pointed out that RCTs are an ethical impossibility. But really, I can't see how actually spelling out what the science says and what it doesn't is either obtuse or belligerent. It's simply setting out the facts and daring to disagree with you. We don't have proof of causation, that's nobody's fault. If you choose to believe that association is enough, fine. But to criticise others for refusing to infer things that aren't there and accepting only what is proven, is crossing the line. Most of the bf advocates on this thread eventually admitted they're making assumptions based on the science, using common sense, any other roundabout way of saying they don't actually know without using those words. And yet some of you seem to take it very personally that others don't think your leap is intrinsically more rational than basing one's view on evidence rather than assumption.

Shagmund you mention the lack of RCTs for formula too, correctly, and don't dispute that we have nothing more than association evidence for bf. So it looks like you agree that we don't know either way. I concur that all we have is observation, for both. You're another one, though, who seems to have a lot of difficulty accepting that some people simply don't share your worldview on the superiority of doing what we have evolved to do. Odd, particularly given that you clearly don't apply that to all areas of life or you'd be out trying your best to replicate the lifestyle we had on the African plains instead of MNing. Nothing wrong in not doing that of course, I don't do it either. But nor do I spend much time trying to convince others that evolution is perfection, but only with regards to things I think we ought to be doing.

It shouldn't be insulting anyone's intelligence to suggest that anyone might be influenced, however subtley, by advertising.
If advertising didn't have an effect on us then companies would not spend such a large proportion of their funds/investment on it.
With choosing to feed our babies with FF rather than BFing though there are often many practical and medical reasons for doing so - so quite understandable for anyone to say that advertising had little effect in their case snow
( I BF my two but have given bottles to many other babies through my work with babies and families )

Also I noticed the article is un-balanced in many ways against BFing - despite calling for a measured approach in final paragraph.

For example it quotes stats for babies still being "exclusively breast-fed at 6 months" (Only 1% apparently). Now both my DC's were undoubtedly breast-fed, one to 4 years, and the other to 6 years ! But I still wouldn't make their very strict criteria to be included in the 1 % exclusively breast-feeding at 6 months. Both had tried some solids before 6 months, and DS had tried an experimental bottle at one point too. Again they say over half of babies not exclusively breast-fed at a week.
But what about all those mothers who have tried both, or mixed feeding, some of these may well settle more with breast-feeding than formula after the first week, or may choose to continue with a mixed approach.

Another thing I notice showing the bias in this report is that they are happy to conclude that many apparent benefits of breast-feeding, such as IQ, are not a true causative correlation, whereas when they look at the supposed effects of breast-feeding on a woman's career they assume that any relationship is causal. It may well not be, those not returning to work so quickly may find it easier or be otherwise more likely to continue with breast-feeding.

I rest my case your honour !

YANBU, article shows decided evidence of bias against BFing and in favour and promotion of FFing

Carolra Fri 15-Mar-13 10:11:09

Morning folks! Good to see we're still going today.... here's another 2 pence from me....

What I find incredible, is that all these ladies (and perhaps some gents) are so willing to spend hours on these forums lambasting the formula companies for advertising within their legal limits... and they're complaining about formula that contains x or y that isn't properly tested.... however in this country, there really is no issue with formula - formula made correctly is fine, formula does not hurt "normal" babies and there is really no evidence at all that says it does.

And yet, I don't see a single one of these folks starting threads about other food sources that are probably fed to 90% of the country's children at some point... oven chips which contain Acrylamide, saturated fatty acids in margarine or aspartame in soft drinks... I could go on. And how about McDonald's advertising? Or Coca Cola.....?

These things are known to cause health issues on a much wider scale than baby formula... so why all this energy trying to educate a population of mums against formula (which is saving some of our baby's lives) when you could be doing a lot more good focussing on something that is causing a real, tangible problem in our society?

I guess that's why I genuinely think you're doing more harm to the breastfeeding movement than good. Because your arguments don't make sense in the wider scheme of things... and you can be really horrible when people disagree with you....

Well Carola I certainly put some time and energy into the recent thread started by MNHQ (Rowan) asking us all whether we wanted to support a campaign launching by Save the Children against the marketing practices of formula milk manufacturers in developing countries - where according to WHO reports 1.3 million babies and children die every year due to consequences of being fed with FF rather than BF. This is obviously largely also related to lack of access to clean water and facilities to boil water and store the bottles. But in these conditions it is even more true that breast is best, and highly immoral for the manufacturers to promote their products in the way that they do, as Save the Children highlights.
Regarding responding to this article bias in research and reporting is always something that grabs my attention !

I think, carolra, that some of it is about control. There's going to be so much that DD eats that I'd rather she didn't but I have no control over, and there's certainly an argument for saying that I shouldn't control it. But while she's a baby, what she eats is my purview and for me, breastfeeding is the best possible option. But you do make a really good point and has given me much pause for thought.

I guess I place more responsibility for low rates of breastfeeding on HCPs than I do formula companies. They most certainly are not blameless as I suspect much of the misinformation comes from formula companies via HCPs, but we all have contact with midwives, health visitors and so on whereas not all of us have contact with formula companies. I have a real problem with some of the things I have been told by HVs and midwives and thank goodness I'd done my own research otherwise I don't think I would've succeeded at breastfeeding. There needs to be a real shakeup of services and retraining of some HCPs. It's beginning to happen in my area but it's too little too late for some.

munchkinmaster Fri 15-Mar-13 11:10:21

I just think if you're only willing to accept evidence from rcts you're going to be in a lot of trouble should you ever have a physical or mental health problem......

I think there are lots of reasons for low breast milk feeding in uk:
-it's not the social norm in some groups (my mother is vaguely disgusted by bf. I think to her bf was a sign of poverty).
-poor advice from hcp (husband is in the baby trade and feels non English speaking mothers often do better due to cultural expectations but also cos they can't understand the poor advice!)
-the right support is not avail at the right times

e.g. I struggled to feed at first but I had to be in hospital for a few days and the health care assistant who was on the first two nights basically physically latched my baby on at 2am, 4am when she came to do my observations. Far better than a telephone line or a counsellor who comes out three days later and I suspect not even this woman's job. But if we are pitching women home after 12 hours with minimal support and a generation of mothers and grandmothers who ff we are not going to increase numbers.

munchkinmaster Fri 15-Mar-13 11:13:47

Also hcps are often poorlyly trained and risk averse. Baby looks to have poor weight gain?Ff then we'll know what it's getting!

Carolra Fri 15-Mar-13 11:18:13

I'm totally on board with you JugglingFromHereToThere about formula in less developed countries - but that hasn't been the issue that's been discussed here. The points I have been trying to make relate only and entirely to formula used in the UK and the people that push breastfeeding to UK mothers. So I don't want to brush your concerns under the carpet but they're not relevant to my argument.

And CommanderShepard, I agree with you about control... I support a women's right to choose how she feeds her baby, and I believe that women that choose to breastfeed should be supported and those that choose formula should be similarly supported. Every mum and baby combo is different and I have no right to tell them what is best for them, and neither does anyone else on this thread.

The HCPs I have had dealings with just seem so torn between trying to promote breastfeeding as they're instructed to do by the WHO but also to support mums that are struggling.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 11:31:43

I'm happy to accept evidence from non RCTs munchkin, which is why I agree that there's an association between bf and various good stuff but no evidence of causation. Where do you think I got that from, if not from non RCT studies?

Anyway, it sounds like you might be getting at the possibility of my needing maybe experimental treatments in the future? Well, I would hope I'd be told what the evidence actually says, or be able to find it out for myself, rather than being lied to. Then I could decide, based on the best evidence available rather than the pretence that correlation equals causation, what I wanted. As with bf and ff, there might not be proof of anything other than association. If so, I'd just have to do the best I could with what there was, same as I did when deciding whether to bf and how much.

Shagmundfreud Fri 15-Mar-13 11:32:09

"I just think if you're only willing to accept evidence from rcts"

This is a wonderful let out clause for you.

RCT's simply can't be done in relation to studies comparing breastfeeding and formula feeding.

Therefore you can continue to insist 'breastfeeding has no proven benefits for babies'.

However, you also have to accept that no RCT's have proven the long term safety or efficacy of formula as a novel method of infant feeding.

Shagmundfreud Fri 15-Mar-13 11:35:19

"however in this country, there really is no issue with formula - formula made correctly is fine, formula does not hurt "normal" babies and there is really no evidence at all that says it does."

FFS - there is evidence which shows that more formula fed babies end up in hospital with gastric and respitory illness, and make more gp visits than fully breastfed babies, and this evidence is good quality enough to be used by the NHS in patient information on infant feeding choices, and to form the basis of NHS recommendations on infant feeding policy.


<sighs. bashes head against brick wall>

Honestly, do you think if you just keep repeating over and over again that there's 'no evidence' and stolidly ignoring the fact that there is, everyone will just accept what you're saying.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 11:41:10

Absolutely shagmund I agree that we have no real proof of either. In fact I've said that already. All any of us are doing is making assumptions and best guesses because that's all we can do. Glad you concur.

However, we really do need to get away from the idea that those of us who stubbornly insist on proper analysis and on not making shit up are somehow being awkward, or unreasonable. There is nothing belligerent about correcting someone who claims, either through ignorance or dishonesty, that association means the same as causation. Science and stats > ideology and assumption.

OK Carola, regarding whether it's relevant to thread to mention situation in developing countries ....

you were the one who was suggesting where else we should be putting our energies instead of into this debate ... so I was just saying one other area I've recently put my energies into is the shocking situation regarding formula manufacturers marketing practices in the developing world.

I think you suggested we should be concerning ourselves with the nutrition of older children ?

munchkinmaster Fri 15-Mar-13 11:45:52

Not experimental treatments - huge amounts of established medecine. Look up a random cochrane review. Treatments established by rct are rated a 4. Those based on what we've always done and it seems to work a 1. You'd be surprised how much of the evidence for what drs do everyday is rated.

munchkinmaster Fri 15-Mar-13 11:50:25

Hmm I'd look more informed if I could spell medicine!

Shagmundfreud Fri 15-Mar-13 11:50:29

I keep wondering why it is that anecdotal evidence ('I was formula fed and I'm perfectly healthy') is seen as absolutely valid in these debates when it comes to judging the safety of ff, but large scale trials showing breastfeeding to reduce illness in babies, involving 1000's of children, which are peer reviewed by panels of doctors and epidemiologists and considered important enough to form the basis of advice to parents disseminated by the NHS, aren't even just doubted, but are dismissed as being completely false ('there's NO evidence that breastfeeding is better for babies').

I mean really, why? It is a form of mass insanity. I read these posts on this board and stand by my earlier comment about the amount of brain fuckery and general weirdness there is in relation to this subject. It's the ONLY time that parents seem to dismiss completely out of hand NHS information and advice about something that relates to the health and development of their children, and treat it with utter contempt.

It just shows to me how deep rooted our bottle feeding culture is. It's a sort or national neurosis. There really is an entrenched view that breastfeeding is primarily unreliable, often dreadful, and really of very little value. And when you point out that in other country the vast majority of women manage to breastfeed successfully without masses of physical and emotional trauma, everyone resolutely ignores you.

TarkaTheOtter Fri 15-Mar-13 12:05:32

I think formula companies do use marketing to stop people from breastfeeding. I'm not talking about teddies on cans or whatever. I'm talking about spreading subtle memes to make bfing seem like the non-mainstream thing to do.
Their current favourite meme to spread is about "a mother's diet being important to breastfeeding". I have seen this written on weaning advice from hipp. I wish I had it still so I could quote directly but it went along the lines of "breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby" (i guess they had to have that as they were advertising follow on milk on the back page). But then, completely unnecessarily as it was a weaning leaflet not a bfing leaflet there was a sentence about how important mother's diet is to bfing, and critically, that PRENATAL diet was important.

WTF has that got to do with weaning?!? It's all about undermining bfing and making it out to be something that I'd for healthy, hippy "supermums" not "normal" people.

Tbh I wish they'd drop the breast is best label requirement as it gives the companies an excuse to say other things about breastfeeding, which are not necessarily true.

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 12:27:38

tarka YY to the sudden proliferation of nonsense aimed at undermining people's confidence in the quality of milk. When I first joined MN a year ago no one was even thinking about diet and BM quality, now it pops up all over the place...I wonder why...oh yes formula companies going for more market share, what a fucking surprise.

"Breast is best but for those occasions when you haven't been eating well, or your milk level is low, or your feeling run down, or your baby gets more hungry then why not line our pockets instead?"

Somehow failing to mention that none of the above are actually a problem once BF is established. Once BF is established your milk is high quality regardless of the cake you stuff in your face, both milk level and baby hunger are dealt with through feeding on demand and feeding while under the weather is an excellent opportunity to pass on your antibodies and help baby not get/ get over the cold/flu you have.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 12:29:41

Thanks for the clarification munchkin. The second paragraph in my last post would of course apply to any medical treatment, not just experimental.

Shagmund that was a fairly bizarre post. I'll ignore the rantings at people who stubbornly refuse to take as gospel what you admit are assumptions, as that speaks for itself. Instead, I'll point out that once again you misrepresent what the scientific evidence actually says, despite the fact that you've clearly read the literature. You must know that there's a difference between bf babies having fewer health problems and bf leading to fewer health problems- indeed, you've admitted that you're aware that association isn't causation. I would imagine you also know that the NHS sometimes makes recommendations based on things other than what we actually know. As they did when they falsely claimed that there was no safe alcohol limit in pregnancy, at a time when we didn't know if there was or not. If you want to pay more attention to NHS policy than actual scientific evidence I wouldn't dream of telling you not to, but I would suggest not characterising refusal to do so as fuckery.

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 12:31:46

If I ruled the world, FM would be available free on prescription for anyone not wanting to BF/ not able to BF.

This would
a) focus the NHS on actually supporting people to BF
b) eliminate the gimicky addition of untested additives to formula
c) vastly reduce the cost of formula feeding to parents.

Pigsmummy Fri 15-Mar-13 12:35:46

Icbineg, that makes perfect sense

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 12:37:11

chunderella I think there is some causal information in some cases. For instance studies on the state of the gut flora in FF and BF babies shows directly that FM can damage the gut which has been directly linked to NEC deaths in prem babies.

Similarly there is data that links directly the sleep patterns of FF and BF babies to diet hence making a strong causal link to SIDS via the fact that other factors known to increase SIDS risk make identical changes to sleep patterns.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 12:58:11

Yes ICBINEG I agree some evidence more closely suggests causation than others, like the gastro stuff (of course, we're not allowed to think some of that might be down to incorrect formula preparation that parents have a big incentive to lie about doing, because you're only allowed to assume things if you're pro bf). And I mentioned the prem evidence already on this thread. There aren't as many social factors to control for there, so for me the issue is the relevance to non-prem babies more than the strength of the evidence. Also I don't know as much about advantages to mum, but breast cancer doesn't disproportionately affect poorer women does it? If so, that would make it more likely that the lower rate of breast cancer amongst women who bf is down to the bfing rather than anything else.

Thanks for engaging, btw, rather than ranting, lying or treating me as an inconvenience because I have some basic knowledge of statistics.

cherryvanillajam Fri 15-Mar-13 12:59:28

In countries such as Norway where advertising of formula milk is banned and there is only one brand to choose from, BFing rates have soared and the majority of women now BF.

munchkinmaster Fri 15-Mar-13 12:59:59

Eh surely if you don't know what the safe limit for alcohol during pregnancy is saying there is no known safe limit is sensible?

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 13:11:26

chund I think most FM given to prems is given in hospital by professionals. I'm not sure that making it up wrong is a big issue under those circumstances.

I was paranoid about still birth and I went immediately on to being paranoid about SIDS once my baby was born. For me the information that FM doubles the SIDS risk (once all confounding factors are taken into account) laid next to data that shows that the arousal from deep sleep is changed in FF babies as it is in the babies of smokers and front sleepers was sufficient for me to conclude that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is likely to be an actual duck.

Even thought the rate of SIDS is low at a population level and my baby had none of the other risk factors, this was more than risk enough for me to make the decision to BF if possible. Obviously other people have different paranoia and different acceptances of relative risks. I would never judge someone for drawing the line in a different place to me. I also believe that the risks of FF may be over stated - or at least not usefully stated in many cases.

But I will rant, rave and call people a liar for stating that "FF is perfectly safe and never harmed anyone", because the overwhelming weight of medical evidence indicates that they are indeed wrong and or lying to say that.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 13:34:41

Munchkin yes that would be sensible. But that's not what was said at my booking in appointment in Dec 2011 (not sure what they say now or if there's been any developments in the science recently). The information then, and what I was told, was that there was no safe limit in pregnancy. Clearly not the same thing as no known safe limit. There was no scientific basis for that, indeed the most recent information had actually shown no harm from 1-2 units a week. The thinking was that women are too stupid to know what 1-2 units actually is, so the findings of the research were actively misstated instead.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 13:42:12

Hmm ICBINEG but even with SIDS, we are still left with the problem of how to take into account all confounding factors when not enough of the most deprived babies are EBF'd for us to know how they'd be doing if they were. I get that researchers try, and so they should. But we have no way of knowing if they're correct, without an EBF group amongst the most deprived of the population to compare to. That's the sticking point. This is in no way a criticism of you for finding that evidence persuasive. As you say, we all choose where we draw the line.

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 13:57:02


The study I found says this:
"Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed by using conditional logistic regression. In the multivariate analysis, we controlled for the following variables: maternal smoking in pregnancy, maternal family status, maternal age at delivery, socioeconomic status of the family (socioeconomic status was calculated using school education, present work position, and income), previous live births, birth weight of the infant, bed sharing in the last night, pillow in the infant's bed, additional heating during the last sleep (a hot water bottle in the infant's bed or the bed in front of a heater), position placed to sleep, and pacifier use during the last sleep.6 As prenatal and postnatal smoking were closely related in our study, we had to exclude 1 variable because of colinearality. We chose to use smoking in pregnancy."

I read that and I can't really understand in what way that have not controlled for economic status?

I happy to learn something more about stats...but I can't really see how you could claim that this study doesn't take account of the fact that economic status of the babies is an issue?

I wonder how strict they are with looking at exclusively breast-fed babies.
Maybe more data could be included from those almost exclusively BF ?
This might be more realistic to look for, though I can see it could be more complex and confusing to interpret ? Does EBF mean never had any FF or solids at all ?(so many will have had a little I imagine)

Zara1984 Fri 15-Mar-13 14:02:57

Cherry the reason bf rates have soared in Norway has more to do with the outstanding postnatal care. Same in NZ, where I am from.

cherryvanillajam Fri 15-Mar-13 14:06:20

I don't think that's the only reason Zara. In 1970, breastfeeding rates in Norway were as low as those in Britain today. Then Norway banned all advertising of artificial formula milk completely. They offered a year's maternity leave on 80% of pay and, on the mothers' return to work, an hour's breastfeeding break every day. Today 98% of Norwegian women start out breastfeeding, and 90% are still nursing four months later. So the banning of formula advertising has got to have contributed to that, surely.

I think there's a generational issue too, to a certain extent. I was mostly breastfed (I'm 30) and my mam recalls huge pressure to stick to that magical 4 hour interval that people seem obsessed with. Add that to this idea that anyone should be able to feed the baby and life becomes... difficult. Because it trickles down - DD was feeding near constantly as a newborn, as she should, and my mum was terribly worried even in spite of herself.

I maintain that one of the key components in my breastfeeding 'success' (not sure I like that word but can't think of a better one right now) has been my husband. I can imagine it's a hell of a lot harder if you don't have someone in your corner - no, he doesn't give DD a bottle often but there are many other things she needs that he can do. And now she's weaning, he is much more involved and in particular breakfast is daughter-and-daddy time.

AppleTangoMonster Fri 15-Mar-13 15:42:22

I checked with the author of the article... she says it was definitely not sponsored by any formula producing company (check on Twitter - @UHirschkorn). So now that's all cleared up, cup of tea anyone?

Milk no sugar, Apple. Ta duck xxx

Zara1984 Fri 15-Mar-13 16:40:21

Thanks Apple, we're sorted now I think!

Mmmmm brew

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 17:09:23

apple hmmm I'm not sure that is a good thing...after all that means that the real reason for writing such ill informed twaddle is still at large, and may therefore strike again.

FrenchJunebug Fri 15-Mar-13 17:20:34

I couldn't breastfeed and was made to feel inadequate as a mum and was publicly tutted at when bottle feeding my child.

It is nice for once to read an article that doesn't make you feel rotten for not having bf your child.


Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 18:11:26

So the purpose of the article was to make non BFing mothers 'better' about themselves? What a ridiculous notion. Good journalism is what any article should be based on. This one wasn't.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 19:11:51

ICBINEG thanks for that extract. I can see that the authors claim to have controlled for social factors. Lots of studies say they have. It's just that because so very few of the most deprived babies are EBF, we aren't in a position to know how they'd be doing if they were. You can use models, which helps, but it's still educated guesswork. You can also consider information from other countries too. But because some of the negative health consequences of deprivation may result from inequality rather than the deprivation itself (fascinating but controversial area!) that only takes us so far unless you're looking at a society with very similar levels of inequality and enough EBF poor babies. There's a lot of stuff you can do but to know if you're doing it right, you have to have some real examples to compare it to, and we don't have enough. Do you see what I mean?

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 19:29:59

chund I thought I was following you but now I'm not sure. Are you saying that if a study compares middle class babies some of which are FF and some of which are BF and finds a difference in SIDS rate, that that somehow isn't likely to apply to babies in other socioeconomic groups?

Or are you assuming that there are no cases of SIDS in middle class babies and hence all the SIDS data is from deprived babies and all the controls are middle class? The study I cited was a case matched study which I think means that you have to compare like for like and find a matching baby for each SIDS baby in the study. Sadly there are more than enough middle class babies dying from SIDS across large populations over several years to mean that a representative number of none deprived babies are in the study. Equally there are more than enough deprived babies who are EBF to make up that control group again when you look across the whole population and a number of years.

I live in the NE and have met many EBF babies from some of the poorest backgrounds you are likely to find in the it does happen!

I don't think any extrapolation or mismatch of control and sample has to be done when the numbers of participants are high enough.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 20:03:44

ICBINEG no, I know there are middle class babies who have died of SIDS too. Anne Diamond's child, for example. However I don't think we have enough EBF deprived babies to function as a control group, and nor do I think getting data from across a couple of decades is the answer either- due to greater inequality. It would seem that we disagree on that. Have you seen the millennium cohort study? It's from 2005 so not totally recent, but only 0.3% across the board was still EBF at 6 months. I don't know whether this can be extrapolated across the UK, but let's say it could. About 700,000 babies born in the UK each year, 0.3% of that is only a couple of thousand. Given that babies of mothers in routine occupations (and they're not necessarily the most absolutely deprived anyway) were twice as likely not to be EBF at 6 months as those in the top occupation group, well you can see our sample group isn't huge. There are some problems with the study like recall bias, and they don't seem to have considered eg babies of long term unemployed. But I would have thought their rates were probably even lower. I don't know if there's anything more recent.

Regarding the Netherlands, that's what I meant about looking at information from other countries. There are some- Norway's another- where lots of the most deprived babies are EBF'd. So yes in those countries the number of participants could indeed be high enough. However, in each of those countries there is less inequality than in the UK. There's now a school of thought that inequality leads to worse health outcomes for the poorest, not just deprivation. So for example someone in the poorest 5% in Norway has more than someone in the poorest 5% in the UK, but also the people in the top 5% wouldn't have so much relative to them. So as well as being better off in absolute terms, they're less poor in comparison and that makes them healthier. That's one explanation for why the poorest Norwegians have better health outcomes than the poorest Brits. It's very interesting. If correct, it would mean that in order to compare eg the Netherlands to Britain, you'd also have to factor in the levels of inequality too, because that makes British poor worse off than Dutch poor. If you could.

myrubberduck Fri 15-Mar-13 20:14:08

Most of the evidence supporting appreciable medium or long term benefits of bf rely on observational studies which are subject to confounding. All of the counfounding factors (maternai IQ, smoking, income age) point one way (beneficial effects) and it is just not possible to be sure that all confounders have been identified or adjusted for appropriately.

If only there were a study based on randomised control testing!

Well there is. PROBIT. desigend by Prof Michael Kramer, posibly the most respected expert in this field. They got around the ethical dilemma by randomising bf promotion rather than bf itself. The children whose mothers were subjected to ( had the benefit of..) intensive bf promotion had significantly more bm than those in the control group, and significantly more exlusivly bf for longer

The results make for interesting reading.

no effect on allergy. Actually found that exclusive bf increased sensitivity to common allergens such as grass pollem

No effect on obesity or markers pointing towards diabetes

no effect on blood pressure height or weight
Summary of results at 6 years old- Non of commonly claimed health benefits observed at 6 years old

I could go and find some of the many studies which show that bf is "associated with" an INCREASE in rates of asthma and ezcema but I have to have my dinner!

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 20:22:23

There are so many bigger health issues to get worked up about. Our children face major health problems from diets full of sugar and a lack of exercise.

Baby milk is such a minor factor in any health outcome in this country - don't waste your time obsessing over it.

The breastfeeding message has 100 percent penetration, formula advertising is minimal, and women will make their own informed decisions. So what's the problem?

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 20:36:35

chand because many women don't make informed decisions in spite of the current BF promotion and supposedly minimal advertising.

Some women do, but many women don't.

ChairmanWow Fri 15-Mar-13 20:38:18

chandellina I agree wholeheartedly. The multiple posts referring to studies show exactly what the problem is - no causal link has been proven which demonstrates improved health outcomes for either group. Therefore there is a wealth of conflicting 'evidence' out there which can be drawn on by either side of the debate.

Above all it saddens me to see women moralising about other women's parenting and the choices (or not) we make for our bodies.

crashdoll Fri 15-Mar-13 20:41:08

ICBINEG I know, what a shame that not everyone is as intelligent and informed as you. sad I mean the reason for women not choosing BF must be because they are misinformed. There certainly are not women out there able to make the informed decision not to BF.

Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 20:44:04

But surely if there were no health benefits of BFing health organisations across the globe wouldn't waste money promoting it? I'm sure MNetters haven't singlehandedly proven BFing is of no benefit in comparison to ff (no offence myrubberduck).

What the hell is in it for them?

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 20:44:21

Okay I give up.

I posted studies that show high quality data linking FF to SIDS. I have made reference to studies that show the mechanism for FF to influence SIDS rates. It is universally acknowledged that NEC in prems is causally increased by exposure to FM through it's affect on the undeveloped gut.

If this is going to be interpreted as "there is no evidence" then wtf is the point.

Yes OF COURSE women are making INFORMED choices...especially with you bunch to tell them to ignore the medical evidence coz it doesn't really exist.

Well I hope to god that no one listens to you over the medical evidence and then loses a baby. Still as long as no one feels moralized at it probably doesn't matter if there is some collateral damage does it?

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 20:46:56

crashdoll when I said that some women make an informed decisions but others don't...I meant it.

How you can interpret that as me saying that "there aren't any women who can make informed decisions" is truly beyond me.

Learn to fucking read.

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 20:47:49

Well I came far too close to losing a baby because I was breastfeeding - a very real risk in the early days compared with formula feeding - so do piss off please.

crashdoll Fri 15-Mar-13 20:49:28

ICBINEG Ah, I see patronising is your default mode.

BlackMaryJanes Fri 15-Mar-13 20:51:38

a very real risk in the early days compared with formula feeding

What do you mean by that?

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 20:53:18

Or in other words, ask an A&E pediatrician how many babies are admitted in the first weeks of their life for dehydration or weight loss from breast milk vs. formula milk.

BlackMaryJanes Fri 15-Mar-13 20:55:45

chandellina Do you have a source for that?

And even if it were true, it's not down to breastfeeding per se, it's down to incorrect technique by the mother (not feeding on demand, not establishing proper latch, and so on).

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 20:56:22

Was that strop addressed to me, ICBINEG?

Mylittlepuds that one's been addressed already. Promoting bf probably won't do much harm, since even if there's no difference between bf and ff babies aren't likely to be worse off being bf. And it might do a lot of good, if bf does indeed cause the various benefits. So it's logical for health authorities to promote bf. Particularly global ones, who have to consider the entire planet and rightly give more consideration to the poorest countries.

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 21:02:31

I don't know if the data are collected because it would be so damaging to the breastfeeding message.

I think that's a bit harsh on the mother saying it's down to incorrect technique.
I'd just say it was due to breastfeeding not becoming properly established, and think it's the responsibility of those supporting the mother to do all they can to ensure breastfeeding is securely established.
I was lucky my DC's both took to BFing like ducklings to water ... honestly they seemed to know what to do even when I knew very little. Other people have a much harder time of it. Much of it due to luck and physiology I'm sure.

cherryvanillajam Fri 15-Mar-13 21:07:30

ICBINEG, I would give up, I have. There is absolutely nothing you can say to people like this, they do not want to hear it.

We know that the overwhelming evidence points to breastfeeding being far better for babies and mothers than formula. If so, governments and organisations would not waste their money on promoting it!

But hey, these guys know better than all the top health advisors and scientists and researchers. Leave them in their little bubble, you are just going to make yourself cross and waste your evening.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 21:15:29

Cherry, given that you don't appear to actually know what the evidence says, you're not in a position to be slagging anyone for being in a bubble. Your time would be much better spent researching the difference between association and causation.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 21:17:54

My dd ended up in SCBU,consultant livid and said they saw several.

I'm sorry to hear of your experiences in the early days with your baby chandellina, that must have been so scary x

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 21:20:44

No Cherry it's not far better in this country.The stats are tiny as are any risks and research is often flawed or discredited further down the line which is why many women chose to use the good alternative to bfing that we have.

cherryvanillajam Fri 15-Mar-13 21:23:37

That's right, Chunderella. I don't really understand the evidence. Neither do any of the promoters of breastfeeding, or health boards, and governments, and huge health organisations, apparently. Only you are clever enough and special enough to see what everyone else cannot, you and a few others who have their own, personal agenda. YOUR time should be spent writing to the health secretary and other important people to tell them to stop wasting taxpayers money on promoting something that's really not that special!

BlackMaryJanes Fri 15-Mar-13 21:25:16

I think that's a bit harsh on the mother saying it's down to incorrect technique.

It's the facts. People need to hear the facts.

So many people presume breastfeeding is innately 'faulty', that women have 'broken breasts' and this is simply not true. The technique of breastfeeding has been lost through generations of formula feeding.

Cuddlydragon Fri 15-Mar-13 21:25:58

Ah, I see, the proven scientific approach of if someone disagrees with your evangelism, then sulk....or be particularly repugnant and suggest your baby will die.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 21:26:41

Cherry in the scheme of things not much money is spent by the gov on promoting bfing for the simple reason the benefits aren't big enough.I suspect they spend waaaaay more on promoting kicking smoking or the healthy eating initiatives as the risks of smoking or eating crap food are actually huge by comparison and reliably well researched.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 21:27:55

Black people have struggled to bf for years,babies used to die as they didn't have the fab clean alternatives we have today.

Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 21:39:59


Promoting BFing "probably won't do much harm."

Ha! Have you even read that back? How utterly, utterly ludicrous that sounds?

When it all works (the milk is not affected by drugs, there isn't low supply etc etc) the make up of breast milk is better than the make up of formula. It's like comparing a healthy diet of fruit and veg to one supplemented by vitamin pills. No comparison. This is why billions are spent extolling the benefits.

Breastfeeding is not always best when you take into consideration other factors however - the wellbeing of the mother, potential problems the baby may have feeding etc.

To use a weird example...if someone was allergic to fruit and veg then the vitamin pill woud be better for them. But that doesn't mean the vitamin pill is better - just better for them.


Optimum breast milk is better than formula. Fact. But is breastfeeding better than formula feeding? Not necessarily - as breastfeeding involves far, far more factors than just the milk.

Two separate issues. But let's not be silly and compare breast milk with f.

Chunderella Fri 15-Mar-13 21:45:09

Cherry if you'd actually read any of the literature, you'd know that much of it says that benefits are associated with bf, not caused by it. If you mix up these two terms and think them sufficiently interchangeable that differentiating them is picking at semantics, then no you absolutely do not understand.

Mylittlepuds I'm not sure how any of what you wrote relates to the post of mine that you quote. When I talked about it not doing much harm, I was thinking of the possibility of negative effects on women who can't or don't want to bf. I think these are likely to be smaller than the negative effects of not promoting bf if indeed bf causes health benefits. I would've thought you'd agree with that?

Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 21:47:40

Sorry Chund - you've lost me.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 21:56:23

Mylittlepuds don't think your vitamin analogy really works.

ChairmanWow Fri 15-Mar-13 21:59:06

chandellina Exactly what happened to my DS. Admitted to hospital with dehydration. His blood sugar was 1.6. The doctor told us that had he been left another day the outcome could have been catastrophic. He was on a drip for days. Such a distressing thing to go through. Formula saved him and he's been thriving since he was a month or so old (when I stopped trying to bf).

I guess there's no room for those of us who tried and weren't successful in such a debate. We have to endure the guilt of 'failure' and the persistent claims (not causally linked) of poorer health outcomes for our children. All I can say is don't let these threads get you down. If anything threads like these make me glad to have a pragmatic and sensible view on feeding.

Not all black people live in developing countries kazoo
- but I too am deeply saddened and shocked by the challenges facing those (of whatever skin colour) raising their children and babies in challenging conditions in developing countries - and seriously hindered in this task by the marketing practices of formula milk manufacturers sad

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:02:55

I feel no guilt,not a jot.There are waaaaay more bigger things worth feeling guilty about on the mothering journey.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:03:38

I was referring to blackmary

Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 22:06:14

Why doesn't it work?

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:12:41

It just doesn't and are you sure it's billions in this country, I thought it was 9p per baby.

I thought it was a good analogy Mylittlepuds - personally I think some of kazoo's posts have been a little odd, especially the one that started "black people ..." but she probably means no harm I guess.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:14:46

As I said I was answering Blackmary's post.

Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 22:27:33

Oh well then - you've said it doesn't so therefore it doesn't hmm

I didn't say billions in the UK either. Billions globally.

Yes Juggler I thought that odd.

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 22:29:04

Thanks juggling, and thanks chairman - your experience also sounds scary. My daughter was also literally saved by formula after losing 17 percent of her body weight in 11 days, so I have made it my business to be well informed on the debate. I do not reject breastfeeding as a fantastic and normal feeding method, and even after my daughter was on formula is continued to mix feed for six months, starting each feed with the breast. I breastfed her older brother for 18 months. (although he also had weight gain issues but not life threatening)

My sister in law is a LaLeche leader and I was breastfed myself. Every single one of my friends breastfed. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, and indeed I once thought it worth convincing women it was an imperative. Reading the research, talking to doctors, becoming aware of other forms of nutrition affecting children far more, plus my own experience and those of others, all brought me to my current position.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:32:59

For the last time. I was answering Blackmary's post. Tis not that difficult to comprehend.hmm

updatedme Fri 15-Mar-13 22:34:49

The PROBIT trial – mentioned above – did find a reduction of gastroenteritis in BF babies. From what I’ve read, the evidence regarding the benefits of breastfeeding on some outcomes (gastroenteritis, resp infection, necrotising enterocolitis) seems pretty compelling. I agree though that some other benefits to BF have been oversold, and the results from PROBIT back this up.

Re. association and causation. RCTs are practically impossible to conduct in many cases, but that doesn’t mean we can’t seek alternative high quality evidence. For example, the association between smoking and lung cancer was never tested in an RCT (correct me if I’m wrong) – the evidence came from good quality observational studies. Causation is near impossible to prove without laboratory standard experiments, but after rigorously assessing evidence from multiple good quality studies, and taking various other factors into account (e.g. potential biological mechanisms), surely we can begin to think about causal relationships?

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:38:31

Surely some of the gastro risks must be down to sloppy bottle preparation and hygiene which is a choice.

ICBINEG Fri 15-Mar-13 22:43:12

Hey all - I have had a think and a calm down and an epiphany.

See I do/did have a vested interest in believing in the data and the NHS, WHO and UNICEF message as I have devoted some serious time to training as a peer supporter. I chose to do that via unpaid leave from work because I wanted to help mothers I thought (and who constantly tell me) are currently being let down by the system. So I'm naturally somewhat resistant to the idea it was all a big fucking waste of time. To be honest it hurt more than a little to consider that possibility.

But at the end of the day those of you saying that there is no cast iron causal proof that FM is riskier to babies than BM may well be right. All the current medical evidence may yet be some cosmic coincidence/joke. Hell, maybe it IS better to listen to an ex-dailymail hack telling you something you want to hear than a HCP telling you some inconvenient "truths". Maybe feelings and anecdote ARE more important than the current state of the trial data.

Either way it is clearly stupidly stubborn to continue as a peer supporter in the absence of truly incontrovertible evidence that BFing makes any serious difference to babies health. The mere existence of peer supporters is surely piling even more guilt pressure on mum's who found them selves unable to BF and for no provable gain.

So go ahead...spread the meme that the evidence is shaky and happy mum is happy baby. I will pull my nose out of others business (although to be fair, sitting in a baby cafe and listening to anyone who chooses to come along with something they want to say isn't the ultimate in nose poking IMHO and we aren't allowed to give advice...only quote data - which I can no longer do with any certainty) and leave you all to it.

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:46:44


Mylittlepuds Fri 15-Mar-13 22:47:38

Your current position being? Breast is not always best?

Clearly it's not always best - your situation being a clear cut example - but generally if all works out for mothet and baby it is?

Why would anyone take offence at a general message highlighting that? Surely if it doesn't work out for whatever reason that's that?

Yes be angry at strange people who say you should have carried on regardless but not at a general breastfeeding is good message?

Kazooblue Fri 15-Mar-13 22:56:19

Is that to me?

I certainly don't have a problem with breast is best.

Thousands of things are best for our babies and children which I don't do and certainly don't mind being reminded of.Bfing is just one way down the bottom of a very long tedious list.My kids eat chorizo and salami which I suspect has a far bigger health risk but I don't object to the risks of processed meat being promoted-within reason(not a fan of hysteria).

I do however have a problem with stat twisting,scaremongering,lack of perspective and over inflation.

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 23:03:41

I think it was to me but thanks Kazoo for answering. That about sums up how I feel.

ICBINEG, I am possibly misreading but did you mean that at the Baby Café you can't give advice? I got loads of advice from my local one - I think they got sick of the sight of me! grin

and for what it's worth I'm so grateful that mums give their time to help us; it made a huge difference to me, not because I struggled per se but because it was just nice to talk to experienced women when I was trying to process what was quite a traumatic birth. I truly believe they played a part in my mental recovery.

chandellina Fri 15-Mar-13 23:27:48

I also gained from peer support, and it was never preachy. I certainly didn't want to hear about statistics, just get useful advice.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 16-Mar-13 06:07:53

What exactly is wrong with the meme that a happy mum is a happy baby?

myrubberduck Sat 16-Mar-13 07:29:37

I am not saying observational studies are useless by any means : hovever surely one RCT is worth any number of observational studies. You are quite right that PROBIT did demonstrate some benefits CAUSED by bf ( it's randomised folks so no confounding) but these were the well established shorter term benefits such as protection from gastric and respitory infection . Most of the trumped medium to long term benefits ( eg allergy obesity diabetes ) have not shown up yet ( but its only been going for 11 years I guess!

Smoking HAS been the subject of RCT- just not on humans.

The PROBIT study was devised by arguably the worlds leading expert on infant feeding - yet it's results have been studiously ignored by the bf fraternity (sorority?). Many of the claims made in eg NHS literature have been disproved by the results.

Protection against gastric etc infection is an excellent reason to encourage bf; it is not a good enough reason to scare and shame SOME women into starting or continuing with something they do not want to do by telling wrongly them they are risking their babies long term well being by not bf

oohlaalaa Sat 16-Mar-13 07:59:58

I bf SIL ff. we had babies the same time. Both thrived. Only benefit to bf I observed was DN suffered from excema, my DD didn't.

In all honesty though, I loved bf, but couldn't care less how anyone else chooses to feed their baby.

I hope you weren't being serious ICBINEG ? - and will continue being a peer supporter ? It helped me so much with BFing my two to have other women encouraging and supporting me.

ChairmanWow Sat 16-Mar-13 09:04:09

ICBINEG wasn't being serious, just horribly sarcastic and passive aggressive. Frankly I have found some of her posts preachy and I'm not sure I'd want that pressure from a peer supporter. I'm hoping she just vents on here and is much more laid back about it in RL.

FWIW I had amazing support from the community midwives, who came to my house every single day during that first month, until I took the decision to stop trying. I can't fault the NHS support I've had.

Satine5 Sat 16-Mar-13 09:06:46

It's funny that on one hand a lot of you think that 'breast is best' is repeated everywhere like a mantra. I had a different experience! On the 3rd home visit my midwife suggested topping up with formula because the weight gain was too slow (according to her, which was b*llocks).
I was repeatedly discouraged by HV to bfeed my DD 'so often' and was told there is nothing wrong with switching to ff which should help her sttn. Now I don't think there IS anything wrong with switching to ff, but (especially) passed 3 month mark, I was continually asked by family members when I am going to stop bf.
They have now learned to stop asking but I still get 2 headed monster looks when I admit feeding my 19 momth old!

Good on you Satine smile - sorry to hear you didn't have more encouragement in the early days.

Mylittlepuds Sat 16-Mar-13 10:39:45

Yep Satine - my experience too. The question on all of my friends and family's lips until BFing came to a natural end at 10 months was 'when are you going to give up,' as if it was some kind of weird obsession.

updatedme Sat 16-Mar-13 10:59:48

Just over 60% of mothers who give up BF say they would have liked to carry on for longer. That suggests to me that something is going wrong in terms of providing support.

edam Sat 16-Mar-13 11:14:23

Just scanned the article and immediately spotted one glaring claim that is misleading, definitely for women in the UK. Right at the end they claim one of the reasons b/f is not as good as it's reckoned to be is because a study showed b/f mothers lost more income than ff. But it was an American study, where you get very little maternity leave - I'm not sure if there's a statutory minimum but loads of women have to go back after a very short time. Think I saw a stat that the average was three months.

So there's probably an association between b/f and giving up work (although you can express at work, I'm not sure how easy employers make it in the US, whether you have any rights the way you do here).

I'm prepared to guess that the rest of their claims are just as tendentious. Ellie Lee has a bee in her bonnet because, IIRC, she had a real problem - her baby ended up very under-nourished and in hospital despite her knowing something wasn't right and asking a variety of doctors and midwives for help, all of whom brushed her off and encouraged her to carry on b/f without actually doing anything to find out whether there was a problem.

That was clearly bad advice and crap healthcare but doesn't negate the health benefits of b/f - merely shows that b/f mothers and babies need good advice and support. (As do f/f mothers and babies of course - women should be free to make an informed choice about whatever suits them and their babies best.)

updatedme Sat 16-Mar-13 11:19:54

myrubberduck, I agree (as I said before) that many of the claims are overstated.

PROBIT is a fantastically important study and makes an important contribution to our understanding of this area. It's just a shame we don't have more studies like this to compare it to, e.g. those set in different populations. It's important to remember that PROBIT does not claim to compare formula fed infants to breastfed infants - the intervention was breastfeeding promotion. None of the infants in the trial were formula fed from birth, and lots of the babies in the control group were breastfed (this is clearly acknowledged as a limitation by the authors and some of the analyses attempt to address this through sensitivity analyses). I know that lots of you on this thread are familiar with these points, but it might not be clear to others reading.

Thingiebob Sat 16-Mar-13 11:24:07

I agree with Satine I had zero support and hardly any assistance with breastfeeding after my DD. I was told not to bf at first due to recovery from surgery and blood transfusions. I had a midwife twiddle my nipple and inform me 'No, not happening' then wander off. I had my baby taken away from me to be bottlefed for the first few days and finally when I did try breastfeeding I was constantly discouraged.

BlackMaryJanes Wed 20-Mar-13 10:56:45

From the Guardian:

Breastfeeding problems rarely lead to serious illness study shows:

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