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Stories about the superiority of formula feeding are misleading:
INFANT feeding may affect brainâ€ was the somewhat alarming headline this week for what turned out to be a good news story. Researchers at the University College London Institute for Child Health have established that babies fed enriched formula milk consistently outperform other babies in IQ tests is a benefit that seems to continue into the teenage years.
So does this mean that new mums should switch to formula? In short, no, though you might find this news a bit confusing. After all, werenâ€™t we always told that it was breast milk not formula that made them brainier?
There have been confusing stories for and against formula feeding, and this is but the latest. This new report, part of a long-running study, actually concerns premature babies, who have very specific developmental needs. They used to have food and fluid intake routinely restricted in an effort to keep them clinically stable. But then research established that they really need super-feeding with formulas enriched with protein, vitamins and minerals if they are to thrive. Premature babies have received enriched formula since the 1980s.
There have been other reports that may have erroneously pushed mothers of full-term children towards formula feeding. In 1999, the World Wide Fund for Nature claimed that more than 300 â€œinherently toxicâ€ chemicals had been found in breast milk. So if super- formula works for premature babies, might it not be even better for full-term babies and protect them from those chemicals, too?
Well, the WWF claim is scaremongering at its worst. Finding chemicals is easy with todayâ€™s supersensitive testing, but there is no evidence that the tiny traces found cause harm. As for super-formula, no one has yet tested it in full-term babies, so we donâ€™t know if it holds benefits.
Thatâ€™s not to say there havenâ€™t been misleading messages about breast-feeding making you brainier, too. Researchers from Michigan claimed as much, but it all crumbled to dust when they looked again at their data, and realised that when you took into account the IQ of the mother, intelligence variation in babies was about genetics. Brighter mums are more likely to breast-feed; and brighter mums are more likely to have bright babies.
But there is still a wealth of research supporting the fact that breast is best: passing on immunity, lowering risk of leukaemia, protecting against Crohnâ€™s disease, reducing obesity risk, even making you more likely to move up a social class in adulthood. Itâ€™s best for mum, too: reducing breast cancer risk, and improving baby-mum bonding. So, if you are able and willing to breast-feed, just go for it.
Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthy way to feed a baby, but it doesn’t always come automatically. For many babies and mothers the learning process takes a little extra “hands-on” help. Using a case study and clear graphics, this video demonstrates the important steps of sucessful breastfeeding; a new mother learns how to help her baby latch onto the breast and nurse comfortably and effectively.
” . . . a terrific video for mothers both prenatally and in the early post partum period. Dr. Morton does an excellent job at teaching newly delivered mothers the best way to latch their newborns at the breast. When new parents come into our breastfeeding clinic for early assistance with nursing, we typically share this wonderful resource.”
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Breastfeeding and food security