Mechanical

Do you know anyone with an infant who uses infant formula?

As you might recall, Chinese firms have tainted infant formula with melamine because it throws off tests checking for protein content. Thousands of infants have grown ill and several have died. Given the spate of tainted products coming from China in the past few years, it might seem reasonable to stick with domestic products.

Enter the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is the administration responsible for ensuring that US businesses get their food and drug products to market as fast is possible while still maintaining a fiction of oversight. I suspect, though, that the FDA would describe their role slightly differently.

The FDA has found melamine in US infant formula, but they won't tell us which one. Salon has a much better -- and vaguely more reassuring -- article about this scandal, but why the hell won't the FDA tell us? Still, you can have fun reading the opening paragraph:

Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe. The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a "dangerous overreaction" for parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.

Um, hello? Breast feeding? There's mountains of evidence that breast feeding provides significant benefits to babies. It's not like mothers would stop using infant formula and let their children starve to death. While I assume there are some women who cannot breastfeed, I suspect that most use formula out of convenience, not out of necessity. But for cryin' out loud, it's your baby. Won't anyone think of the ... (I'll stop now).

You might not find feeding your children melamine a big deal, but I find it disquieting that FDA scientists are revolting against illegal activity at their agency (PDF) -- activity which does little but benefit business interests.

This is what eight years of Bush rule has left us with: business first, people second maybe. Ignoring science (ignorant Americans who trash science are just as culpable!) because you find it "inconvenient" or at odds with your ideology always bites you in the end.
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There is a transition zone though. My son is a year old and stopped breast feeding on his own at 9 months but he still needed the formula until 1 year of age. Not everyone can breast feed so it would seem that safe formula is imperative.

Thanks! Now I am paranoid. :P
Yeah, what she said. I was going to rant about women who for whatever reason can't or have stopped breast-feeding not being able to go back to it after a while, but you probably arn't interested.
I was going to rant...
I did for you. It was too shocking, I could not help myself :-)
I think you did rather touch a nerve. It wasn't so much a sexist attitude, as one stemming from ignorance. Breast-feeding is a hot potato in the politics of child-rearing. The 'breast is best' campaigns are not quite getting the message through as well as they otherwise might. When I gave birth to Kyle 8 years ago, there were any number of clinics in my area encouraging mothers to breast-feed. My midwives told me I was the only one interested in doing so.

Obviously the plural of 'anectode' is not 'data', but I strongly suspect that it is more among educated, middle-class, *older* mothers who are interested in breast-feeding. And it is not easy. It does *not* come naturally. Mother and baby both have to learn how to do it for maximum effect and comfort. Plus, if one has a large baby, it is not always possible to produce enough milk to satisfy it, and so top-ups have to be introduced.

The main argument I have with your post here is the notion that mothers may be able to *return* to breast-feeding after giving formula. Not having read any other comments before replying here I may already be duplicating something that someone else has said, but once breast-feeding is stopped, the milk dries up. It is impossible to go back to it.

Infant formula *is* one of the great inventions of the modern age. It should be viewed upon as a companion to breast-milk, and not as a subsitute, but there are those mothers who, even if willing, are still unable to feed their own babies (my own mother was one). For these women, and babies, formula is essential, which makes the tradegy of finding toxic substances in the formula even more alarming.

Consider yourself educated.

xxxxxxx
Even with 4 different breastfeeding coaches, I had a hell of a time. It's NOT easy in the least. It can be a huge struggle and something a woman has to have a LOT of spare time to do. However, there are plenty of women who aren't willing to have their body 'owned' any longer by their baby so they don't even try.
WIC is trying hard to promote breastfeeding now and will provide low income moms with breast pumps instead of formula vouchers.
Yeah, I just learned this from a friend of mine and I was so happy to hear it too. Then, I was at the the WIC office with my pregnant daughter last week, and they had all kinds of pro-breastfeeding posters and stuff up everywhere. Definitely a change from when I was on WIC 22 years ago.
This is super scary to me since my grandbaby was adopted and the adopted mom has to feed her formula as breastfeeding is simply not an option for them. :( Luckily, she just about old enough to eat regular food now.

Edited at 2008-11-26 04:17 pm (UTC)
Curtis!
What is this post?
I have never imagined that I would read a sexist post in your journal!
Even if I understand your point of view, you are talking about something that you do not know about.
Breastfeeding is not something possible for everyone and far from that.
For some women breastfeeding is a luxury they cannot afford because they have to work! Some women do not have enough milk, some women failed doing so, there is also situation when breastfeeding a child may be harmful for the infant (HIV).
What are you suggesting? Because a woman made the choice to have a child she would have to breastfeed no matter if for that she has to renounce at her career.
Easy comment from someone who would never have to make this kind of choice.
What are you going to say to women who made the choice not to breastfeed and who now do not have milk to feed their children? Sorry the formula is not safe you should never have used it!
Agreed, louc1. Curtis, I'm really surprised by this. I hope your intent for this post just got clouded up by some mis-chosen words.

My partner's best friend could not breastfeed because of a lack of production. She tried for months to breastfeed, and ended up starving her newborn for two weeks because she didn't know about her lack of supply. After that, she would pump until she bled, and still not produce enough in an entire day for a single feeding.

Her doctor made her feel horrible about this. Her parents made her feel horrible about this. Imagine her despondency as her friends breastfed, talked about the wonders of it, etc yet she could not.

Luckily, her depression was manageable.

My partner is breastfeeding our daughter. And after five months, we're having to supplement with formula. Not because of convenience. Not because of work schedule (she has an AMAZING team that allows her to pump and feed every couple hours). Not for cosmetic reasons. She just can't keep up with production. You do know that as infants grow, so do their appetites. Mothers don't necessarily ramp up production parallel to their child's needs.
In other words, the breastfeeding vs formula argument is one that's volatile and never-ending in the parenting community. It runs at the same emotional temperature as religion and politics. Just as with those topics, sweeping generalities about breastfeeding or formula usage will not change anyone's opinion; and more than likely stir up confrontation.

Especially from someone who does not have children.
I clearly don't know much about this topic. I mean, from a sheer medical perspective, I know of no one who denies that breast feeding is better for the child than bottle feeding, but I had no idea who problematic breast feeding could be for women. Thanks for clearing some of this up.
Breastfeeding is the best option. If you have it. My nephew could not be breastfed. He also would not latch, making my sister-in-law feel horrible. Other people made her feel horrible for it, even though she wanted to breastfeed.

The FDA are criminals for not letting mothers, especially ones who MUST depend on formula, know which product is a danger to their children.
I met a woman last spring whose son is 9 now. When he was an infant she tried and tried to breastfeed him, she really wanted to so bad! It just didn't work out and she ended up having to fed him formula, and she got all kinds of shit for it from people who didn't understand how hard she tried and how badly she wanted to. To this day she weeps with regret, remorse, and also the guilt applied to her by ignorant people without the compassion to accept what ultimately was not her choice.
Two years after my nephew was born, they found out he had a syndrome on the autistic spectrum. Guess what? One of the signs was babies who did not latch to their mother's breast at birth.
When people laugh at me for nursing my son for 4 years, I'll be sure to point to this entry. I was lucky that my schedule and milk supply allowed exclusive breastfeeding till my son was able and willing to eat solids. Mind if I link to this in my LJ? I have more than a few friends who are nursing or pregnant.
You were lucky, not everyone has the supply, or the schedule that you had. There are so many women with jobs that are not going to be friendly to pumping while on the job :/.
It seems you've been suitably chastised, so I won't add my voice to the chorus. I'll just say that Amy chose to go with formula when feeding Quinn for various reasons that are, ultimately, no business of anyone's, but have not been mentioned in this thread so far. However, "convenience" is not one of them. I am certain that every mother makes the choice as best fits her, and her family, and their unique needs. Everything is a tradeoff.

The choice was not made out of ignorance of the health benefits. Lord knows the "Mommy Boards" she reads are polarized enough on the issue. The breast-is-best folks seem to think that all they need to do is hyperlink to enough scientific studies and repeat their screeds enough and everyone will come around.

Love,
Andy
I used a bit of formula after they were weaned. I hope that didn't do any damage! It's surprising how many women don't breastfeed. However, the pronatalist bias of America does NOT help!!!!!!!!!!!