Posts Tagged ‘ infant formula ’

Study Reveals ‘Hidden Costs’ of Breastfeeding

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Infant formula may cost money, but breastfeeding is hardly “free,” according to a new study by researchers at the University of Iowa.

The study found that formula-feeders (i.e., mothers who never breastfed), short-duration breastfeeders (i.e., mothers who breastfed for fewer than six months), and long-duration breastfeeders (i.e., mothers who breastfed for six months or longer) all experienced earnings losses after giving birth. However, on average, long-duration breastfeeders experienced much steeper and more prolonged earnings losses than did mothers who breastfed for shorter durations or not at all.

“When people say breastfeeding is free, I think their perspective is that one doesn’t have to buy anything to breastfeed whereas one needs to purchase formula and bottles to formula-feed,” sociologist Phyllis L. F. Rippeyoung said in a press release.

Mary C. Noonan, the study’s co-author, added, “Breastfeeding for six months or longer is only free if a mother’s time is worth absolutely nothing.”

Image: Breastfeeding mother, via Shutterstock.

 

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FDA Will Not Ban BPA from Food Packaging

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday that it will not ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging–including infant formula packages–even though the agency agrees  the substance needs to be studied more carefully for potential health risks.

The FDA’s BPA policy statement was updated to say that in response to a 2008 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the agency is taking “reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply,” but that it will stop short of banning its use altogether.  “FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure,” the policy states.

Health risks associated with BPA include negative effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.

Health policy experts are disappointed, if not dismayed, at the decision.  Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, responded in a strongly-worded statement, “Scientists, consumers, retailers, manufacturers and the states are sending clear signals that BPA doesn’t belong in our food packaging and that investment in safe alternatives is an investment in the health of the American public. Now the FDA needs to catch up. Inaction is not acceptable.”

Two weeks ago, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey submitted his own petition for a BPA ban, arguing that it is a obsolete material that is not necessary, especially given the health risks.

Image: Canned foods, via Shutterstock.

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Pressure Builds on FDA to Ban BPA in Food Packaging

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Bisphenol A, or BPA, has been slowly disappearing from toys, food packaging and food service items since it was revealed to have health risks including cancer, sexual dysfunction, and heart disease.  The issue is particularly important for children, as BPA levels–detectable in the blood and urine of pregnant women, and in the umbilical cord blood of infants–is believed to impact fetal and child development alike.

The fight to have BPA banned from all food service items was escalated late last week when Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban it.  The Washington Post reports that Markey’s argument is not based on the health risks of BPA, but rather is based on the obsolescence of the material:

Markey did not premise his request on the chemical’s potential dangers. Instead, he used a provision that allows people to petition for changes to food additive rules if it can be shown that an additive’s old use has been abandoned. Markey’s office polled the food industry and found that major manufacturers no longer use BPA in their food packaging. Using this “abandonment” clause enables the government to sidestep the debate over whether BPA is safe and still bar the chemical’s use.

In three separate petitions, Markey is asking FDA to ban the chemical’s use in the packages of three types of household products: infant formula and baby/toddler food, canned foods and beverages, and small reusable food containers.

The four companies that make nearly all the nation’s formula said they no longer use BPA, according to the petition. Seven other companies that make canned foods said they either no longer use BPA or they are phasing it out. Seven firms that make reusable containers, such as Tupperware and Glad, said they have either never used BPA or have stopped using it.

The FDA has previously stipulated that BPA carries health risks, but has stopped short of banning it saying that it is safe in small doses.

Image: Plastic baby bottle, via Shutterstock.

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Study Finds Arsenic in Organic Infant Formula and Cereal Bars

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Foods made with organic brown rice syrup, including infant formulas and cereal bars, may contain particularly high levels of inorganic arsenic, a new study finds.

Chronic exposure to even low levels of inorganic arsenic has been linked to increased risk of cancer,  Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, MyHealthNewsDaily reports.

Brown rice syrup is often included in organic products as an alternative to high fructose corn syrup.

This study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that some cereal bars made with brown rice syrup “have concentrations of arsenic that are 12 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion,” MyHealthNewsDaily reports. There are currently no U.S. regulations on the amount of arsenic allowed in food.

Lead researcher Brian Jackson of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire says his team analyzed the arsenic in 17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars and three energy “shot” products, all of which contain organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice flakes, or grains of rice. Previous research found that rice is a major source of arsenic in the diet.

The arsenic content of baby formulas made with organic brown rice syrup is especially worrisome, Jackson says.

From MyHealthNewsDaily:

Recent research suggests arsenic exposure early in life may increase the risk for health problems later on. Formula may be a baby’s sole food over a critical period of development, and their small size means they may consume more arsenic per kilogram of body weight than an adult eating foods with similar arsenic levels, the researchers said.

It’s hard to say what effect arsenic in foods may have on adults, Jackson said. If guidelines are set for acceptable levels of arsenic in food, they may be higher than most of the levels found in this study, around 200 ppb, Jackson said.

“I don’t think eating the occasional cereal bar has any real risk to it,” Jackson said. For those concerned about arsenic exposure, Jackson recommends making sure meals are not rice-based. For parents, Jackson said to avoid infant formulas that contain rice syrup.

 

Image: Infant formula via Shutterstock.

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Report: 1 in 8 Low-Income Parents Waters Down Formula

Friday, January 20th, 2012

As many as 15 percent of parents who struggle to make ends meet add water to their babies’ formula, using “formula stretching” to get more out of their infant food purchases, a new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics has found.

The study followed Cincinnati families who qualify for federal food assistance and free formula through a program called WIC.  MSNBC.com reports that the assistance isn’t enough for many families:

Even though the majority of parents were receiving help through foods stamps and WIC, many did not have enough food to feed their families. In fact, some 65 percent of families ran out of WIC-supplied infant formula most months. And the result, in many cases, was that parents diluted or cut back on formula for their infants.

This kind of formula stretching may have consequences for the infants, Beck said.

“There will be a subset of children who will have what is called ‘failure to thrive,’” Beck explained. “More often, though, the ramifications of this tend to be less visible — problems with cognition and behavior. In some it may lead to obesity later in life.”

While some might point to breast feeding as a solution, not every mom is in the position to do this for her child. In some jobs it’s virtually impossible to express milk during the day when a mom is away from her baby.

“Clearly, we encourage and actively support breastfeeding,” Beck said. “The reality is that a relatively low percentage of our patients breastfeed by the time they reach us.  If they do, we continue to encourage it and have a breastfeeding clinic if they need it.  Although they likely wouldn’t require formula, we need to do education and a nutritional assessment for mom.  Also, as the first year progresses, even fewer families continue to nurse.”

Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock

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