To ask a question about ff?(8 Posts)
Don't wish to inflame anybody. I have obviously seen many bf/ff debates since I joined MN, but this question has been on my mind for a long time and I have finally got brave enough to ask it.
Of course it is obvious that species specific mothers milk is the ideal for their babies. Formula is an acceptable substitute.
But I have often seen it mentioned that any drop of breast milk is beneficial, even if it is only one feed in that babies life. I have just seen it said that the benefits are less definable after 6 months and that was quickly refuted.
My question is, is it possible to tell if an older child was breastfed or not? And has anybody ever known of a child who has actually suffered or failed to develop healthily as a direct result of being FF? ( I don't mean gastro bugs etc which are a result of poor preparation rather than the nutrition of the formula itself). Any how can one feed of bm at the beginning of 1-2 years of ff have any real benefit? What is that benefit?
It's all averages isn't it. Of course you can't tell how a person was fed, and you can't possibly prove whether my eczema was due to being FF, or whether I would have had it worse had I not had BM at all... on the whole BF babies grow up to have fewer health problems though.
You can't tell, because you would have to compare an individual formula fed child against the same child who was breastfed. As a child can't be simultaneously breastfed and formula fed, how would you do that?
If you are the mother of identical twins you could conduct a study by breastfeeding one and formula feeding another I suppose.
There is no way of knowing what milk a child had when they were a baby when they were older.
My children have never been sick other than colds, they are highly intelligent kids too both FF fed.
but is it not also the case that there are so many other variables that would influence the future health of any child that it is almost impossible to actually make a definitive causal link between method of feeding and future health anyway. The idea that one feed can some how have some measurable affect would I think be laughed out of court but in theory, if something has benefits, then a little is better than none, bit like exercise really. One gym visit a week isn't going to do much but its better than nothing (probably)
There is no way of telling, because all the benefits that are reported about breastfeeding are about statistics and chance. eg. a child is less likely to get asthma if he's breastfed than if he's formula fed. If he does get it, he's less likely to get it as badly as he did if was formula fed. But that doesn't mean every breastfed baby won't get asthma, or that no breastfed baby will get severe life-endangering asthma.
The first few days' worth of a mother's breastmilk, after the baby has been born, contains a relatively high dose of elements of the mother's own immune system (sorry being really basic here) so even if you breastfeed for a couple of days the theory is the baby will benefit from this.
The difficulty with this kind of proof is that there are so many factors deciding the later health of any one individual.
E.g. my dd was breastfed until she was a year but has very poor health because of certain genetic problems she has inherited, her brother was breastfed for only 4 months but has the genetic condition in a milder form, several of their friends were formula fed but have not inherited this condition at all so are overall far healthier.
If dd had been ff'ed I might well have ascribed her poor health to that: it is only because I knew that I was a fanatic breastfeeder that I've had to look for other explanations.
Now add to that all the other factors that could influence the health of an individual as they grow up: other diet in childhood, exposure to smoking or not, stress in family, opportunities for playing outside, healthy activities etc etc.
You need a large sample to feel reasonably sure that all these other factors are more or less equally distributed in both groups, and even then you need to allow for the fact that some factors may be more likely to be found in one group than another (e.g. many of the women who gives breastfeeding a try might also have a stronger interest in healthy diet for older children).
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