Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.The above article gives an even longer list of benefits for breastfeeding mothers and society as a whole.
As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.
Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.
But on ANC's Crossroads program last week, Tony Velasquez was interviewing a lady representative of the breastfeeding advocacy group, Aruga. When she was asked however, what conditions in the mother makes breastfeeding NOT a good idea, she said there was only one contra-indication, and that is when the mother is undergoing radioactive treatment therapy. Yeah, like how many Filipino mothers are in that category? Two? I was curious about this claim because I'd heard a different advocates say that "the only" contraindication was if the mother was sick with HIV/AIDS.
So I've looked it up and found the following apparently authoritative post from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia:
When should a mother avoid breastfeeding?
Health professionals agree that human milk provides the most complete form of nutrition for infants, including premature and sick newborns. However, there are rare exceptions when human milk is not recommended. Under certain circumstances, a physician will need to make a case-by-case assessment to determine whether a woman’s environmental exposure or her own medical condition warrants her to interrupt or stop breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is NOT advisable if one or more of the following conditions is true:
An infant diagnosed with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder
The infant whose mother:
Has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Is taking antiretroviral medications
Has untreated, active tuberculosis
Is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II
Is using or is dependent upon an illicit drug
Is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents, such as antimetabolites that interfere with DNA replication and cell division
Is undergoing radiation therapies; however, such nuclear medicine therapies require only a temporary interruption in breastfeeding
For additional information, visit American Academy of Pediatrics' Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk* or read: American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs. (2001) The transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk. Pediatrics 108:776-789. Available online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/108/3/776
Of possible concern is that USAID reports that the Philippines ranks ninth in the world in the incidence of tuberculosis . As for galactosemia, it seems one in 7500 live births involves babies with this inherited disorder.
Then there is the question that has arisen about whether many poor Filipino mothers are themselves healthy enough to produce enough milk for their infants. I am worried that the strong campaign launched by advocates of mother's milk is really another form of "motherhood and apple pie" that will cause malnutrition and illness not from the relatively low quality of infant formulae relative to mother's milk, but to the relatively low quantity of it available if mothers follow the advice of the advocates.
Naughtily Tony Velasquez also asked if the the current campaign might not become an occasion for "shaking down" the big infant formula makers, who obviously won't go away because there is a real demand for their product, driven perhaps by those unwarranted health and nutrition claims that the Supreme Court may now strike down and disallow.