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Is Formula Really All
That Harmful?

I am trying to decide whether or not I really want to wean my three month old baby to formula. Although breastfeeding is going well and my baby is thriving, I am wanting to get my body back, and I wonder if it really makes a difference?

Aside from the health benefits of breastfeeding your baby, you may want to consider some facts about the harmful effects of artificial baby milks.

  1. For starters, just one bottle of formula alters the pH of the baby's intestinal tract. In one study (Chieri, 1997), a researcher experimented with formula of different pH levels. In every single case, all of the formulas failed to induce a prevelence of colonization with bifido bacteria at one month of age in the intestinal tract. The intestinal tract needs to maintain a low pH to help prevent the growth of pathogens in the gut. This kind of pH is only consistent with babies receiving human milk.
  2. Fewer instances of diarrheal illnesses is the most readily acknowledged benefit of exclusive breastfeeding in both rates and severity. One study indicates that babies fed a combination of formula and breastmilk are roughly 4% more at risk for death due to diarreahal illnesses, and babies that are exclusively formula fed are about 14% more at risk for death from diarreahal illnesses (Victoria, 1989).
  3. Formula fed babies are more likely to have ear infections (Teele, 1989; Paradise, 1994).
  4. Formula fed infants are more at risk for rotavirus. Now that a safe vaccine is no longer available, it is important to consider that only a miniscule number of breastfed infants have contracted rotavirus as compared to formula fed babies (Holberg, 1991).
  5. Formula fed infants are more likely to develop insulin dependent diabetes (AAP, 1994; Pettitt, 1997).
  6. Formula fed infants are have a higher incidence of childhood cancer and lymphoma. The longer a child is breastfed, the greater the risk reduction (Davis,1988 Schwartzbaum, 1991; Shie, 1995).
  7. Formula fed babies do not receive the same ingredients that breastfed babies receive that promote brain growth and development. DHA and arachidonic acid, which are essential for brain growth and central nervous system development, are not found in formula. Researchers are questioning if the absence of those ingredients in formula contribues to the fact that children breastfed as babies have higher IQ's (more than ten points higher on average) than children formula fed as infants (Lucas, 1992; Rogan & Gladen, 1978, 1993). Although researchers in Japan are now experimenting with adding synthetic DHA to formula, we will not know for years if this synthetic additive is as beneficial as the natural one God created in breastmilk or if it is even safe for long-term consumption. Every time science thinks it can come up with something as dependable as God's design, I think of all the failed drugs that were supposedly safe that have been pulled from the market (remember the rotavirus vaccine that the CDC had to pull because of infant deaths?).
  8. Cow's milk formulas can lead to excessive cying and colic in babies due to cow's milk protein sensitivities.
  9. Soy formulas have been proven to be just as antigenic as cow's milk formulas and are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1998). Soy formulas also have a greater incidence of wheezing, rhinitis, and ear infections. In a study by Zoppi (1989), immunizations were shown not to take as well due to a protein problem. Phytates in soy interfere with the absorption of the essential minerals zinc and selenium (Lonnerdal, 1994). There is no cholesteral in soy, and there are high levels of manganese, aluminum, and plant steroids (phytoestrogens--which may influence sexual function). Soy fed infants have a phytoestrogen circulation that is 13,000-22,000 times higher than maternal plasma estrogen concentrations (Setchell, 1997).
  10. If you are considering travel to other countries, you should know that exclusive breastfeeding provides complete protection against cholera because it is a water-born illness.

Clearly, there is a greater cost to formula feeding, and it is not just the actual cost of purchasing the formula. People who have problems with standard cow's milk formulas and soy formulas find that lactose-free (not enough studies/data to prove safety) and hydrolysate formulas (Martin and Esteban conclude a risk of anaphylactic shock, 1998) are excessively expensive and not without their own problems. Unless prevented by actual physical problems (such as chemotherapy or a positive HIV status), breastfeeding is clearly a superior choice and should be continued and protected.


BREASTFEEDING BASICS HOME

Affect of Maternal Diet Before the Baby is Born Benefits of Breastfeeding Birth Choices
Breast Compression Breastfeeding After Breast Surgeries Establishing A Routine
Flat and Inverted Nipples Formula Use Healthy Growth Indicators Jaundice Milk Supply
Plugged Ducts and Mastitis Pumping Sleepy Baby Sore Nipples
Storage Guidelines Things People Say Thrush Weaning


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