Over the years, countless studies have shown that when it comes to infantnutrition, breast milk is best. This fact remains true, as there is simplyno infant formula product on the market that can match the superiornutrition of mother's milk. In fact, some infant formulas actually containingredients that can be harmful to your baby.
Although some formula recipes have improved over time for mothers who mustrely on formula to feed their new baby, many products are still loaded withunhealthy and even dangerous ingredients, making breastfeeding the best wayto go for new mothers who have the option.
In Massachusetts, public health authorities have taken steps to encouragebreastfeeding by restricting the marketing of baby formula in the state'shospital maternity wards.
In many hospitals across the country, new mothers are given complimentarygift baskets during their stay that often contain free samples of infantformula, supplied by formula companies. This is a practice Massachusettshealth authorities see as a clever marketing trick, since it implies thatthe hospital's healthcare providers, in giving new mothers this gift,endorse the use of formula.
To combat the practice, the state has decided that while free formula may bemade available to mothers who need it, it will no longer be added to giftbaskets for all new mothers. The restrictions are part of a larger stateinitiative to educate women about the benefits of breastfeeding, reports TheBoston Globe.
So, what are some of those benefits? For starters, there is the specialinfant-mother bond forged through breastfeeding that may not be achievedwhen a child is fed formula, but, beyond that, there are important healthreasons why breast milk is best.
Infants are designed to drink their mother's milk. They are not meant tohave cow's milk or anything other than their mother's milk in their earlylives. Only breast milk contains the nutrients a healthy baby needs,including 160 fatty acids that are not found in baby formula.The nutrition a child is given at infancy makes a lasting impression, too.Research shows babies who are breastfed have lower incidences, later inlife, of chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes and even cancer, as well asa reduced risk for severe communicable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea andear infections.
A mother's own health can benefit from breastfeeding her child, as well. Inaddition to having a happy and healthy baby, moms who breastfeed often haveless bleeding after the birth, lose their pregnancy weight faster andexperience better bone strength, with fewer hip fractures later in life.They may also have reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer.Although there is some concern that breast milk itself has becomecontaminated in our modern world, it is still the superior choice, accordingto research. An analysis of breastfeeding conducted by the EnvironmentalWorking Group shows that chemicals like PCBs and PBDEs that accumulate in awoman's body fat are often found in trace amounts in breast milk, sincebreast milk is made up of fat from a mother's body. However, the levels ofchemicals typically found in breast milk pose less of a threat than therisks associated with feeding a new baby formula.
That's because, as mentioned earlier, babies are not designed to drinkformula or juice or any other liquids besides mom's milk when they are born,and if they do, poor health consequences can result.
Have you ever looked at the ingredients label on a container of babyformula? Oftentimes, there are things in there that we, as adults, shouldn'teven be eating -- hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and cow'smilk, just to name a few. These are ingredients that promote chronicdisease, and yet we are feeding them to our very youngest consumers, whohave no say in the matter.
Of particular concern in formula is the ingredient manganese, a neurotoxicchemical found in much higher concentrations in baby formula, particularlysoy-based formulas, than in breast milk. According to the EWG, soy-basedformulas contain about 80 times as much manganese as mother's milk, whileanimal-based formulas contain about 30 times more. Elevated manganese levelshave been linked to behavioral problems, such as Attention DeficitHyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) later in life. Babies are not able to absorband excrete excess manganese during the first year of life, according to theEWG.
Besides the harmful ingredients we know are in baby formula, there areother, less certain risk factors involved with formula feeding, as well.For example, chemical and bacterial contaminants can come into play whenbottle feeding infants. Mixing powdered infant formula with water from thetap, or even bottled drinking water, can open the door to numerous watercontaminants, including chlorine byproducts, pesticides, lead, solvents,arsenic or nitrates from fertilizer runoff. Similar contaminants may also befound on bottles, nipples or even in the formula itself.Some formulas may contain excessive levels of metals like aluminum, cadmium,lead or worse. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports the following:"In the past, (baby formula) recalls have been ordered because ofcontamination with substances such as broken glass, fragments of metal andsalmonella and other bacteria. The fungal toxin aflatoxin has also beendetected in some commercial formulas. Although detected levels were verylow, this toxin is known to cause cancer and is not present in breast milk."Infant formula is so unhealthy for babies, the Natural Resources Defense
Council directly blames aggressive marketing of infant formula inunderdeveloped countries for "an epidemic of infant death from malnutritionand diarrheal illness, a result of the contaminated water used to dilute orreconstitute formula."
The formula industry is an $8 billion a year business, but the price ofusing infant formula in place of breast milk may reach much higher thanthat, as it may mean harming young and innocent lives.
Many mothers are choosing not to breastfeed, simply because they see formulaas a more convenient option. But are you really willing to sacrifice thehealth of your new baby for the sake of convenience?
If you are medically unable to breastfeed for any reason, do your homeworkand find a formula you can trust to be the next best thing for your baby. Ifyou can breastfeed, do. Not only will it forge a special connection betweenyou and your child, but the natural choice is also the best choice for youand your baby's health.
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