The shocking news for most people is not that breast is no longer best, but that formula is not benign.
The risks of formula break down into the product itself, the absence of breastfeeding, and the making of the formula.
Formula is made from modified cow's milk. On contact with the gut, formula changes the ph balance of the baby's stomach, and this alters the ability of the gut to mature properly. This impacts on both the gut's ability to absorb nutrition, and to act as an immune defense against infection.
Lack of breastfeeding means that babies on formula miss out on a complex range of basic building blocks for normal growth.
And even if they add in fake building blocks, they don't always work:
Some of these are major life threatening building blocks, such as the oral facial development that keeps sleep apnea at bay in later life, some are small and much more difficult to track. Who is going to miss 5 IQ points if you are an A+ student? No one. But if you are a D+ student, and those 5 points would have taken you to C, that's a life changing big deal. Happy thriving and healthy babies have gone on to develop heart disease or diabetes in later life, and lack of breastfeeding was the cause of it, but who sees that 30 years later?. And the shocking facts are that more formula fed babies die than breastfed ones - even in the 'West'.
Formula feeding increases the risks that your baby will have an illness, and for a few, that's a life threatening illness. It's appalling that this info is not common knowledge - but a fortune in shareholder's profits rests on the facts being kept away from consumers:
Finally, powdered infant formula is not sterile. Manufacturing makes it impossible to produce it that way, and as many as 14% of all batches of formula are contanimated by bacteria such as salmonella and E.sakazakii.
That's why you have to heat the water - not to make the water safe, but to make the powder safer. Because of the presence of these bugs, the WHO recommends that newborns under 8 weeks old do not receive powdered formula, but only have UHT sterile liquid packs.
Info that has been around for a very long time:
Not only are there bugs in some batches of powdered formula, once made up, formula is an excellent growth medium for them. So formula safety is crucial if you're using it. In the UK, 5 times more formula fed babies are treated in hospital for gastroenteritis than breastfed ones. Good hygiene is vital in protecting your baby:
Left over formula that's been fed to a baby should be thrown away after one hour.
These risks from contanimated formula are bad enough, but if you live in a resource poor area, where there is poor hygiene and dirty water, formula feeding kills 3500 babies every day. And formula companies relentlessly push their products in these areas, regardless of the death toll:
There is an international code to protect babies' health by restricting advertising and promotion of breastmilk substitutes:
Dr Gribble was speaking at the ABA's "Hot Milk" conference in August 2007. http://uk.youtube.com/user/MumsRight http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au podcasts are at http://mumsright.libsyn.com