Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Although exclusive breastfeeding is recommended when medically possible, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that supplementing breast milk with formula will not compromise breastfeeding, and that in some cases formula may even help mothers to have successful breastfeeding experiences when their babies are losing weight. More from The New York Times:
Researchers randomly assigned 38 infants who had lost 5 percent or more of their weight in the days after birth to either breast-feeding alone (the controls), or breast-feeding along with a supplement of formula at the end of each session.
At 1 week of age, all were still breast-feeding, but 9 of 19 infants in the control group were now using formula, compared with only 2 in the group that had used formula at the start. By age 3 months, 79 percent of the early formula users were breastfeeding exclusively, compared with 42 percent of the controls.
The researchers emphasize that they used a careful procedure — small volumes of formula and careful administration with a syringe to prevent confusion between breast and bottle nipple.
“Most babies don’t need formula,” said the lead author, Dr. Valerie J. Flaherman, a pediatrician at the University of California, San
Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital. “But some kids are at risk for weight loss, and this could be an option.”
Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
A study conducted by British researchers has found that while breastfeeding can protect a baby from eczema, asthma, and gastrointestinal issues, it cannot protect children from becoming overweight or obese. Previous research had suggested that weight management was on the list of benefits of breastfeeding–not so, says the new study. More from Time.com:
“There’s a lot of other evidence out there to continue to support breast-feeding,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Richard Martin, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Bristol in the U.K. “But in terms of breastfeeding reducing obesity, it’s unlikely to be effective.”
Martin worked with colleagues at Harvard University and McGill University in Montreal to assess 15,000 mothers in Belarus. The location was intentional — when the study began in 1996, breastfeeding was not a popular practice among Belarusian mothers. By separating the moms-to-be into two groups — one that gave birth at hospitals where staff received “Baby-Friendly” training designed to encourage breastfeeding, while the other delivered at hospitals that provided no extra support for the practice — researchers were able to create a “huge contrast” in a setting where breastfeeding rates were historically low. After three months, 43% of babies in the first group were exclusively breastfeeding compared to just 6% in the group that were born in hospitals that had no extra training.
The babies were followed up in 1997 — their first year of life — and again when they reached 6 ½ and 11 ½. The breastfed babies experienced fewer gastrointestinal infections, less eczema and higher IQ (they scored about 7 ½ points higher than their formula-fed friends at age 6 ½). There was no difference in dental cavities, allergies, asthma or rates of being overweight or obese.
The latest report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) marks the first release of data from the 11 ½-year old participants. Mirroring the earlier results, the researchers found no changes in weight and body fat between those who were breast-fed and those who weren’t. About 15% of the children in both groups were overweight, and 5% were considered obese.
Comparing body mass index (BMI) or measures such as waist circumference and skin thickness yielded “absolutely nothing that was statistically significant,” says Martin.
Image: Breastfeeding mother and children, via Shutterstock
Monday, March 4th, 2013
Mothers who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, are among the most likely groups of American moms to breastfeed, but a debate is growing over the extent to which moms need to “cover up” while feeding their babies. Peggy Fletcher Stack reports for the Salt Lake Tribune:
Indeed, Utah, with its predominant Mormon faith, has one of the highest percentages of breast-feeding moms in the nation, according to a 2012 report card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 86 percent of children are breast-fed at some point, with 64.4 percent still nursing at 6 months, compared with 47.2 percent nationwide.
In recent years, however, some Mormon moms in and out of the Beehive State have faced criticism, gossip and even reprimands from church leaders for “not completely covering up.”
As a new mother in Provo about three years ago, Heather Moore-Farley got a call from her Relief Society president, asking her to use a blanket or go to the mothers’ lounge in the women’s bathroom to breast-feed to protect others’ sensitivities. Then her bishop suggested Moore-Farley and her husband pray about it. They did and got the same answer: She was doing nothing wrong.
Sometime later, another ward member confronted the couple as they were walking home from church and accused her of “contributing to the pornography problem” and “not keeping [her] covenants.”
Moore-Farley felt hurt and angry, but it didn’t change her mind about breast-feeding. She began to collect stories like hers from other Mormon moms. The couple eventually moved to the Bay Area and had no more trouble nursing subsequent children at church.
Verbal attacks on lactating mothers from many backgrounds, though, have continued — even as proponents have grown more vocal and better organized in defense of their rights.
Image: Breastfeeding mom, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
If a woman is told she can’t breastfeed in a public place in Texas, she may soon be able to sue the organization or person that dismissed her, if a new law passes the state’s legislature. The law comes in the wake of a 2011 incident in which nursing mom Michelle Hickman was asked to leave a Target store despite a company policy that is supposed to allow breastfeeding in any spot in the store. Hickman’s experience inspired a nationwide “nurse-in” at Target stores and other locations. More on the new law from The Dallas Observer:
On Friday, [state Rep. Jessica] Farrar filed a bill that would allow mothers booted from a public place for nursing can sue and collect damages from whomever did the booting, be it an individual, business, government or other entity.
Advocates have already won acknowledgment that breastfeeding is the optimal way for newborns to get nutrition and that the practice is something to be promoted. But breastfeeding isn’t yet fully a right, not legally anyways.
Take the case of Donnica Venters, a Houston woman who said she was fired for asking to pump breast milk while at work. She and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued, only to lose in federal court last February.
“Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in her decision. That means there is no cause of action for “lactation discrimination” under federal law.
That looks unlikely to change anytime soon, but Farrar’s bill would give women like Venters some recourse at the state level.
This issue also came up online in 2012, when a Facebook nurse-in followed the social networking site removing photos of breastfeeding mothers.
Image: Breastfeeding baby, via Shutterstock
Friday, November 9th, 2012
Sweden’s government has drafted legislation that would prevent images of babies from appearing in formula ads, the Huffington Post reports. Ads for formula would only be permitted in scientific journals, and free samples or discounts on the product would be prohibited, as well. Supporters cite research lauding the health benefits babies derived from breast milk, including antibodies associated with fewer colds, healthier digestive systems, and decreased likelihood of developing allergies. Critics argue that reiterating the idea that “the breast is best” is harshly judgmental towards women who are unable or choose not to nurse. If the bill is passed, the law would take effect in August 2013.
Image: Baby drinking from bottle via Shutterstock