Opening Salvo – Issue 16 Spring 2011


Got Whole Milk?
Another Generation Being Given
the Wrong Formula

by James M. Kushiner

A recent New York Times story (Feb. 10, 2011) reported that the IRS has granted new tax breaks to working mothers for "pumps and other breastfeeding supplies" so that they may provide breast milk for their babies. First Lady Michelle Obama has also begun promoting breastfeeding because of its apparent link to lower obesity rates in children.

This high-level interest in, of all things, breastfeeding, is a good example of a reversal of a fashionable orthodoxy. It marks a departure from maternity practices of the 1950s, when breastfeeding was widely discouraged by medical professionals in favor of "formula."

According to a 2006 online article in the International Breastfeeding Journal,

Advertising also has tended to promote the idea of "scientific motherhood," particularly since the 1950s. . . . [B]rochures and advertisements in the 1950s commonly promoted the modernity of infant formula and associated the use of scientific developments with quality parenting.

The word formula itself suggests a scientific basis for its creation and an implied superiority. The majority of (even stay-at-home) mothers were persuaded to give their babies infant formula—despite the extra work and expense of bottles, sterilization, and preparation time—because medical science assured them it was for the best. Breastfeeding rates declined precipitously, reaching their lowest point in the early 1970s.

However, a few researchers studied the properties of breast milk, . . . (continue reading)

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