Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ten Things You May Not Know About Baby Formula

The use of baby formula as the primary method of infant feeding has exploded in popularity over the past few decades. Formula has become increasingly healthier in recent years with the addition of chemicals like DHA and lutein, both of which are naturally found in human milk. In spite of these advancements, there is some information that the manufacturers aren't advertising. Take a look at these ten little-known facts about infant formula.

1. The linings of formula cans contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a plastics chemical which mimics the female hormone estrogen. Exposure to BPA can potentially cause reproductive problems and early puberty. Experts are concerned that the chemical may leach into the formula and be ingested by infants, who are far more vulnerable to adverse effects from contaminants than adults. Liquid and ready-to-feed formulas are more susceptible to this leaching than powdered formulas. The FDA reports that they are currently accepting applications for alternative substances with which to line formula cans; however, they do not recommend changing a child's feeding habits based solely on this concern.

2. Feeding an infant formula can increase the child's risk of developing food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease, a disease which encompasses the chronic conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, according to new research performed by nutritionist Sharon Donovan at the University of Illinois. The study also shows an increased risk for asthma in formula-fed infants. These conditions result from the formula's inability to activate the appropriate immune system genes within the digestive tract. Without the activation of these genes, a child's digestive system is left vulnerable to a lifetime of adverse effects.

3. It is impossible to produce sterile powdered infant formula. According to the World Health Organization, current technology does not allow for powdered formula to be manufactured in such a way that it is sterile, even when it is produced within current hygienic guidelines.

4. Baby formula may be contaminated with the harmful bacteria enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella enterica. Since powdered formula cannot be manufactured to be sterile, these bacteria can be present and cause severe illness in children. The WHO reports that, although these organisms cannot thrive in dry formula, they can survive in it for up to and possibly exceeding one year. Once the formula is mixed, it provides an ideal habitat for the growth of these illness-causing bacteria. In rare cases, infection with these pathogens can even cause a child's death.

5. Formula feeding increases a child's risk of childhood obesity and of developing diabetes. A White House study, released by first lady Michelle Obama in May 2010, explains that babies who are formula-fed are 22 percent more likely to be obese. Formula derived from cow's milk contains about twice as much protein as human milk. This excess protein results in excess insulin production and prolonged insulin response. Even well into childhood, children who were formula-fed as infants show low levels of the hormon leptin, which is known to "inhibit appetite and control body fatness."

6. Soy-based formulas contain plant estrogens which can cause a variety of reproductive issues. Soy formulas are an alternative for children with cow's milk allergies and for vegan families. While studies have shown that obesity and diabetes risks are lower for children who consume soy-based formulas, they are not without their own set of dangers. A study published by The Society for the Study of Reproduction in March 2010 found that newborn mice who were fed a formula containing the soy plant estrogen genistein once daily developed various reproductive problems, as well as abnormalities of the thymus gland. The study mimicked the level of genistein that would be found in a human infant who was regularly fed soy formula. It raises serious questions about the safety and long-term effects of soy-based formulas in infants.

7. The FDA does not test infant formulas prior to their marketing and sale. While the FDA inspects manufacturing facilities and performs quality tests on formulas once a year, they do not test infant formula to ensure that it meets nutritional and quality requirements before it is allowed to be sold. Instead, the FDA relies solely on the manufacturers' own reports that their products meet federal standards.

8. Infant formulas often contain perchlorate, the base chemical in solid rocket fuels. In March 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study which found perchlorate in 15 brands of infant formula. The EPA insists that the levels of the chemical found in formula pose no threat to infants. However, according to the CDC, the drinking water in 26 states contains high levels of perchlorate. If tap water and powdered baby formula, both containing the hazardous chemical, are mixed together, the levels may be high enough to cause serious harm to infants.

9. FDA testing has revealed that some baby formulas also contain the chemicals melamine and cyanuric acid. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has stated that these chemicals "can cause renal failure by production of insoluble melamine cyanurate crystals in renal tubules and/or calculi in kidneys, ureter, urethra or the urinary bladder." In other words, when these chemicals are present in baby formula, they can cause kidneys stones, kidney and urinary blockages and infections, and kidney failure. In extreme cases, complications of these conditions may result in the deaths of infants. The FDA performs tests for melamine and cyanuric acid in baby formulas, which can be viewed on their website.

10. Many brands of formula contain ingredients which are generally acknowledged to contain or produce monosodium glutamate, or MSG. The organization Truth in Labeling provides information from a Canadian study which found MSG, a dangerous neurotoxin, in at least five brands of baby formula. Although testing was performed only on Canadian products, all five companies manufacture and sell products in the United States as well. The organization also names ingredients from four different types of U.S. baby formula which are known to contain MSG or to produce it during processing. These ingredients include enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, casein hydrolysate, carrageenan, and maltodextrin.

Unfortunately, the companies that manufacture infant formula do not always tell the entire story. Strict guidelines are put in place to help ensure the safety of formula-fed infants, but unfortunately some problems have still arisen with these infant products. It is imperative that parents have all the information possible and that our society continues to demand higher and higher standards in the production of products for our children and babies.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Update on Bisphenol A for Use in Food Contact Applications: January 2010

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Infant Formula

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FDA 101: Infant Formula

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Clinical Testing of Infant Formulas with Respect to Nutritional Suitability for Term Infants

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Guidelines Concerning Notification and Testing of Infant Formulas

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Frequently Asked Questions about FDA's Regulation of Infant Formula

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Domestic Infant Formula Testing Results

Amy Burkholder, CNN
Group Sounds Alarm on Infant Formula Cans

Thea Edwards & Wendy Hessler, Environmental Health News
Soy Formula Affects Reproductive Development in Mice

World Science & University of Illinois Staff
Why Is Breast Milk Best? It's in the Genes, Scientists Say

Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-Pilot
How the Fight against Flab Can Start before Birth

January W. Payne, U.S. News & World Report
5 Reasons That May Explain Why Type 1 Diabetes In on the Rise

U.S. News & World Report
Health Buss: Dropping Cancer Rates and Other Health News

Brian Hartman, ABC News
Rocket Fuel Chemical Found in Baby Formula

World Health Organization
Questions and Answers on Melamine

World Health Organization
Melamine and Cyanuric Acid: Toxicity, Preliminary Risk Assessment and Guidance on Levels in Food

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Melamine Health Impact Assessment

World Health Organization
Safe Preparation, Storage, and Handling of Powdered Infant Formula

Truth in Labeling
Infant Formula

Let's Move
Early Childhood

Biology of Reproduction
Acute and Chronic Effects of Oral Genistein Administration in Neonatal Mice

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Similac Recall: Beetles Concern Prompts Infant Formula To Be Recalled

WASHINGTON — Drugmaker Abbott Laboratories said Wednesday it is recalling millions of containers of its best-selling Similac infant formula that may be contaminated with insect parts.

The voluntary action affects up to 5 million Similac-brand powder formulas sold in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and some Caribbean countries. The company said the products may contain a small beetle or larvae, which could cause stomach ache and digestion problems.

The recall does not affect any liquid formulas or other Abbott-brand products.

A company spokeswoman said Abbott uncovered the insects last week in one section of a manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan.

"We immediately shut down that one area and began an investigation," said Abbott's Melissa Brotz. "We're in the process of resolving it now." Abbott manufactures Similac at several U.S. sites.

Brotz said the company has been consulting with the Food and Drug Administration, which determined there was no "immediate health risk" from the contamination.

Consumers can enter the lot number on their containers online to determine if they are subject to the recall. The products should be returned to Abbott for a full refund.

"Delivering anything less than the highest quality infant formula is unacceptable to us," said Brotz. "We will do whatever is necessary to maintain the trust of parents in the coming weeks."

The affected products were sold in plastic containers and various can sizes, including 8-ounce (227-gram), 12.4-ounce (352-gram) and 12.9-ounce (366-gram).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Babywearing and Breastfeeding Triplets!

My wonderful friend Nicole, mother of NINE children, including triplets, whom she is breastfeeding.

You can read Nicole's blog here:

Report Finds that Using Formula Doubles the Death Rate for U.S. Infants

Report Finds that Using Formula Doubles the Death Rate for U.S. Infants
[Press Release]
© 2004 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.

[Editor's note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 69, Spring 2004.]

The December issue of Natural Family Online magazine ( features a new analysis which finds that formula feeding doubles infant death rates for babies in the United States. Health educator and author Dr. Linda Folden Palmer's report, based on several decades of research from the U.S. and across the world, reveals that the use of infant formula costs the lives of an estimated 9,335 U.S. babies each year.

According to the report, formula feeding costs U.S. babies more than four additional lives per thousand. The final relative risk for formula feeding comes to double the risk of death for U.S. infants who are fed with formula, compared with babies who are fed naturally.

Based on the current U.S. infant death rate of 6.7 and an average breastfeeding rate of 50 percent, the report shows that the U.S. infant mortality rate would climb to 9.4 if all infants were formula-fed and would drop to 4.7 if all were breastfed.

"Infant formula was designed to be a medical nutritional tool for babies who are unable to breastfeed," Palmer said. "Formula does not fully meet the nutritional and immunity needs of infants. It leaves their immune systems flailing."

The report's conclusions are derived from an examination of the available scientific research on infant mortality in the U.S. and across the world. Research included in Palmer's report includes studies showing artificial feeding's impact on overall infant death rates in developing and undeveloped countries; studies providing comparative illness occurrence rates for many illnesses and disorders in the U.S. and other industrialized nations; and reports examining superior survival rates and decreased illness rates among breastfed infants. The report assembles these statistics to build a firm picture of the ratio of infant deaths for U.S. formula-fed babies against those who are breastfed.

The report cites results from numerous studies illustrating the negative impact of formula feeding on the health and survival of infants with various illnesses and health problems, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); heart, circulatory and respiratory failure; diarrhea; respiratory illnesses; cancer; and low birth-weight and preterm babies.

Illness and death rates of breastfed babies who receive formula supplementation are much closer to those of fully formula-fed babies, Palmer's report notes. Numerous studies referenced in the report reveal conclusively that the longer breastfeeding lasts, the greater the measurable difference in illness and death rates.

Available evidence strongly contradicts commonly made assertions that formula feeding does not risk lives in industrialized nations where education and medical advances prevent increased deaths, Palmer said.

"Some insist that the blame for the United States' relatively high infant death rate lies with underprivileged communities," Palmer said. "But after examining the available research, we see that elevated death rates among U.S. blacks cannot be attributed to poverty. Hispanic Americans rank similarly to African American populations for socioeconomic factors, but they match non-Hispanic whites in their lower infant mortality rates. The difference is not socioeconomic; the difference is in rates of formula use versus breastfeeding."

For both condensed and full, referenced versions of Dr. Palmer's report, visit

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sugar for Newborns Does Not Relieve Pain

Sugar for newborns does not relieve pain: study
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EmailPrint.. AFP/File – A nurse attending to newborn infants in a maternity ward of a hospital. Contrary to international guidelines, … .– Wed Sep 1, 7:04 pm ET
PARIS (AFP) – Contrary to international guidelines, sugar given to newborn babies does not ease pain, according to a study published on Thursday by The Lancet.

In 2001, doctors published recommendations, based on a series of trials, that oral sucrose be administered to newborns to help relieve pain from invasive procedures.

But a new look suggests that sucrose does not reduce pain signals in the brain or spinal cord, but merely changes the babies' facial expression, which gives a false impression that pain is being relieved.

Rebeccah Slater of University College London and colleagues pricked the heels of 59 newborns with a small blade -- a procedure that was required anyway to draw a blood sample -- and monitored pain activity in the brain and spine using electrode caps.

The infants were assigned either sterile water or a sucrose solution, placed on the tongue by a tiny syringe.

Pain activity did not differ significantly between the two groups.

"The absence of evidence for an analgesic action of sucrose in this study, together with uncertainty over the long-term benefits of repeated sucrose administration, suggest that sucrose should not be used routinely for procedural pain in infants without further investigation," Slater's team said.

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Early Weaning Linked to Chronic Disease

Early weaning linked to chronic disease
Updated Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:31am AEST

The universal health recommendation is around six months of exclusive breast feeding (AFP: Romeo Gacad)
New research has linked the nation's chronic disease burden with the absence of breastfeeding.

Thirty per cent of people aged between 35 and 40 were not breastfed as babies.

The Australian National University research assessed the outcomes of dozens of existing studies, with the aim of explaining what factors trigger chronic diseases such as diabetes, digestive diseases and heart problems.

Researcher Dr Julie Smith says she found adults who were prematurely weaned as infants are more likely to suffer in the long term, compared to those who were breastfed.

"The risk associated with lack of breastfeeding in infancy was 30 per higher for many conditions compared to breastfed infants," she said.

Dr Smith says mothers need more support in hospital and the community.

She is challenging federal, state and territory governments to do more to ensure breastfeeding is a realistic choice for mothers.

"The universal health recommendation is around six months of exclusive breast feeding," she said.

"With only half of women in Australia even making six months of breastfeeding, we have got a considerable way to go to make it possible for many women. Sometimes that is about parental leave."