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Baby formula by prescription only

Encourage breastfeeding
  (+5, -13)(+5, -13)
(+5, -13)
  [vote for,

This idea is doubtless deeply flawed, and i've resisted posting it for a while, but the recent modification of the humanbutter idea has provoked me.

Babies are generally weaned too early and breastfeeding is not well supported. This could be remedied by several measures. I'm taking adequate support of breastfeeding mothers and longer maternity leave as read and not in any way new, so i'm not suggesting this idea be introduced in the situation as it is right now. Given the first two, however, the existence of easily available baby formula without prescription enables the people who promote it to do so freely and encourages bottlefeeding at the expense of breastfeeding. There are many genuine situations when baby formula is needed. However, in the majority of cases it's completely unnecessary and a waste of money, and introduces a new risk to the child's health for no good reason. Therefore, i propose that baby formula be available for free, on prescription only, but that a wider range of health professionals be able to prescribe it than doctors, such as health visitors and midwives.

nineteenthly, Feb 11 2009

McGill Study on Breastfeeding vs. IQ, Belarus, 1996-2005 http://eclips.consu...084-3970(08)79047-9
Largest randomized trial to date. [jutta, Feb 13 2009]

For [Susan] and [Jutta] Cheese_20causes_20typhoons
Feed the info through this for objectiveness. [zeno, Feb 13 2009]

Breastfeeding http://www.theatlan...ainst-breastfeeding
an interesting article on research / societal aspects. [bungston, Apr 17 2009]

Baby formula 'should be prescribed' http://www.abc.net....0/09/23/3020386.htm
[xaviergisz, Sep 25 2010]

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       Is this "free on prescription, as an alternative to paying for it off prescription", or "free on prescription, but otherwise unavailable" ?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 11 2009

       I suspect it is a means to curb availability of formula to people whose reasons for wanting it are unworthy.   

       The problem with prescriptions is that they entail an interaction with some sort of health professional and this comes with its own agenda. The intent of this idea could be accomplished without superfluous involvement of various health people by imposing a 900% tax on formula.
bungston, Feb 11 2009

       I think peer-pressure and community expectation is a far more persuasive and effective means of encouraging breast feeding than quasi-prohibition. I don't know the situation in your country, but in Australia there is strong pressure on women to breast feed babies exclusively for the first 6 months.   

       Two of the main reasons to bottle feed a baby are: 1) mother is sick, 2) mother needs to go somewhere without baby. Necessitating the mother to go the doctor and then the pharmacy (to buy formula) in these situations is an absurd nanny-state (pun intended) fantasy.
xaviergisz, Feb 12 2009

       I agree; the idea is deeply flawed. Mothers should make this choice. If mothers aren't capable of making good choices, we're all screwed no matter what else we do.
colorclocks, Feb 12 2009

       [+] - strongly support this idea. Prescription guidelines need to be written very carefully as well to ensure that it is not given for social reasons.   

       For example, mothers who want to return to work before six months, require support from their employer to allow them the time and privacy needed to express breast milk. Hence this should not be a permitted reason for prescription of formula - there is no reason whatsoever that whoever is providing the child-care cannot use expressed milk.   

       Mothers who have to //go somewhere without baby// either need to re-evaluate either their priorities, their travel arrangements or their employer. Hotels will accept mothers with babies, car seats do exist and flight attendants are used to dealing with young babies on a plane - there is no reason to leave a baby at home (speaking as one who has taken long haul flights with a three-month-old baby). I do not think it is in any way acceptable for an employer to require a mother with a young baby to take overnight business trips, and it is unacceptable even to ask; if employers cannot understand this then there is something fundamentally wrong with their attitude to their staff, respect for families and social responsibility.   

       In most cases, sick mothers can breastfeed. Of course - there are a few conditions in which breast-feeding is not advised - those which must involve treatment using of medicines the traces of which are harmful - and diseases such as HIV, the transmission of which can be otherwise prevented. However, for many contagious conditions, it is recommended that mothers breastfeed as it supplies the antibodies directly to the baby to fight the same condition. It's likely that a baby will catch whatever a mother has even without breastfeeding - unfortunately babies have very weak immune systems and really do need those antibodies that the mother release with her milk. This is not to belittle those who are ill and hence cannot breastfeed, just to point out that the excuse is massively overused.   

       Mothers do try to make good choices, however they have to do so based upon the information that is provided to them. The fact that even advice on breast-feeding involves a trip to a health-care professional, but formula 'milk' is colourful, cheery and aggressively recommended by the manufacturers really does confuse things. Most substances which are known to be harmful to babies are marked as such and no country would allow them to be marketed to be given to babies. However, formula milk, which has been clearly demonstrated to cause damage to the development of a baby still gets through the net. That just sends out the message that 'this stuff is safe' when in fact it should be treated as a medicine - good to use when you really need it - but bad for you to take it when it is not really required.   

       My experience and that of my wife is that breast feeding is hard, in fact it can be really hard. But just for about three months; after which things were so easy and natural that my wife would have preferred not to stop breast feeding if it were not that the doctor instructed her to do so due to the next edition being in the press. She expressed in the morning, at lunch time when at work and in the evening (twin electric pump), kept a good stock of frozen and fresh; and I fed it to the baby at the appointed times whilst she was at work (I took the baby to work with me).
vincevincevince, Feb 12 2009

       //formula milk, which has been clearly demonstrated to cause damage to the development of a baby//   

       I would guess the studies that show damage are about babies who are fed formula milk exclusively vs. breast milk exclusively. I don't believe occasionally feeding a baby formula milk has any adverse impacts.   

       Yes, it is fantastic if you are in a situation where you can feed your baby breast milk all the time. But sometimes this is not possible. Why penalise women (with guilt and inconvenience) who are not in such a fortunate situation?   

       disclaimer: We have fed our baby formula milk about 10 times over the past six months (for various reasons) despite our preference for always feeding breast milk.
xaviergisz, Feb 12 2009

       I am skeptical about the epidemiologic studies showing long term ill effects from formula feeding - for example asthma, obesity, low IQ. Formula feeding / lack of breast feeding tracks with many other variables also known to be associated with these things and it would be very difficult to isolate the effect of formula from other influences of low socioeconomic status (for late effects) or of being a sickly little baby born with many problems (in the case of premature births).   

       I do find the lower rate of ear infections among breast fed babies more plausible.
bungston, Feb 12 2009

       As i said, the idea is flawed, which is one reason why it's here.
[MB], i mean free and prescription only. There is a possible problem with that in that it might encourage mothers to use cow's milk, clearly not a good thing for babies.
[bungston], interesting you should mention the tax idea because i've had the same thought about junk food, which i've never bothered putting on here because i think it's too controversial, but the thought there was to use that tax to subsidise healthy food, which would mean some governmental body would have to decide what was healthy, meaning in turn that you'd end up with Codex Alimentarius, so that idea's stillborn.
[xaviergisz], i actually thought of this because of a conversation with a member of La Leche League who said that the reason most mothers don't breastfeed is that their partners don't like them doing it, not wanting them to expose their breasts in public. I found this so depressing i thought there needed to be more support than there is right now. However, there is indeed a big nanny state problem with this, manifested through the control of healthcare professionals.
Thanks, [vvv], i appreciate your support. I think there's a scale issue again. A division emerged in many people's lives, but not ours, between home and work, meaning that there's a workplace and a home and the two interact relatively little in many cases. Some people work from home, but many can't. This translates into a mandatory career break for many parents, creating difficulties in promotion or even continued employment. Everything is hard when you have a new child and lactation needs to be maintained to continue to breastfeed, hence the need for a freezer and a breastpump.
Back to you, [xaviergisz]. We did feed the offspring on formula occasionally, when we went out. This translates into quality time for the parents, which could improve their relationship and through that the relationship with the child. That is one positive thing about formula, but it requires a disposable income. The health benefits aren't necessarily to do with direct nutritional and immune system issues so much as emotional bonding, so i don't know how relevant the other issues are. It's more about well-being. In that respect, the issues of IQ, obesity and asthma could all be linked to bonding rather than a direct immune or nutritional influence from the milk itself.
The reason for broadening the number of people who can prescribe it from just doctors is to make it less patronising and hierarchical, but the trouble is of course that i am very unimpressed by the approach of health visitors. Any parent i know can come up with horror stories about health visitors that drastically reduces my respect for their profession, so i won't share those as i'm sure you know them.
nineteenthly, Feb 12 2009


       We have had both of our babies in Ireland where there is a very strong breast-is-best lobby. A lot of health professionals here seem unable to tell the difference between encouragement and dictating. I'll never forget seeing a midwife reduce my wife to floods of tears by insisting that she spend at least an hour learning to breastfeed. This was after she had been awake for more than 24 hours, had an eight inch gash in her stomach from an emergency section (without anaesthetic) and was too doped up on morphine to even hold the baby.   

       I'm not saying this idea is quite that stupidly off-kilter, but it definitely falls in the camp of telling mothers what to do instead of talking, explaining and persuading.   

       Breast may be best, but there is a time and place for formula and that time and place should be decided on by the parents.
wagster, Feb 12 2009

       Ah - I see you've been there [nineteethly]!
wagster, Feb 12 2009

       Yes, i agree. This is the problem. [Grayure] also had both babies by Cæsarean due to didelphys bicollis (as opposed to litigation avoidance or whatever) and we've been there. There was also a big issue with the second baby biting for several months.   

       Parents need to be in control. There are people whose role is entirely concerned with supporting the feeding of babies, and this is unfortunately where it gets murky. You mention persuasion, explanation and talking, which would all be good. I have an axe to grind about this. I know a lot of people who are in La Leche League, which is a breastfeeding support group. Their counsellors take this approach, but unfortunately in a way which makes me seethe with anger. They're all trained using Marshall Rosenberg's "Non-Violent Communication" technique, which is seriously lacking epistemologically. For instance, it involves "listening" to the other person in terms of emotional message and ignoring the semantic meaning of what they say. That to me means not listening. The problem is therefore how breastfeeding counsellors can use credible active listening skills as opposed to New Age bollocks, which is what they have right now, so the people who do it may tend to be inept either one way or the other. [Wagster], you got the unsympathetic and dictatorial end of things. The other end which is just as bad because it's emotionally manipulative and coercive in a different way while pretending to be something else.   

       So, maybe what is needed is a different approach to addressing the needs of mothers and children, but that's very complex. In the meantime, how about doing something to change the perception of baby formula, so that it's seen as a drug rather than food? Calpol doesn't do much harm most of the time, but people aren't spreading it on sandwiches and giving it to toddlers because it's not food. I'm trying to think of a way of construing baby formula in the same light.   

       Sorry, [wagster], missed that. Yes, i've been there in spades!
nineteenthly, Feb 12 2009

       It's not about doctors. Doctors may lack the experience they would need to make an informed decision, but people who have themselves succeeded in establishing breastfeeding would not lack relevant experience. That could include doctors, but they're not the main people involved.   

       Also, yes it is a drug, because foods are drugs. People may think of them differently, but whereas some drugs are not foods, for instance cisplatin, all foods are drugs. Camembert is likely to kill a few germs because it contains penicillin. How is that not a drug?
nineteenthly, Feb 12 2009

       I'm not falling for that old philosophy mind-trick! You are arguing that all foodstuffs are drugs only because it supports your argument to restrict distribution of formula milk. The problem is that you then have to get *all* food on prescription, including Camembert. Formula milk is basically just food, even if you choose to view it as an emulsifier (which it also is).   

       Of course this whole issue becomes a lot more sinister if you are Chinese. Occasionally formula milk really *is* a drug.
wagster, Feb 12 2009

       //if you are Chinese. Occasionally formula milk really *is* a drug//
Or a constituent of kitchen worktop.
coprocephalous, Feb 12 2009

       No, i genuinely see food as drugs because i'm a herbalist and one of the ways i see herbalism is as a form of dietetics. I just stuck a load of Calendula into someone's prescription because it's high in carotenoids, and that's generally what i do. Retinoids are used for acne, warfarin and methotrexate are anti-vitamins - an orthodox and nutritional approach to therapy. The idea of foods being drugs is central to my entire approach to life and not just something i've made up for the sake of this idea.
I don't think all drugs should be on prescription, and in fact sometimes i get into a libertarian mood where i think nothing at all should be on prescription but people should be better informed about their pathology and pharmacology instead, but there's only so much time in people's lives for them to learn about this stuff, so the question is one of priority.
Formula is good for making gulab jamun, which sometimes makes me wonder if breast milk would also work well, so it isn't just a food/drug either.

       How about this then? A well-informed and educated populace which is able to make rational decisions concerning the wellbeing of the children among them. My problem is that, while trying to avoid being histrionic, i'm still reeling in shock at the realisation that reluctance on the part of fathers for the mothers of their own children to expose their breasts is a major reason for children being bottlefed, and my response to that is that something quite dictatorial needs to be done to alleviate the problem. I don't currently have empathy with those fathers because i can't see why they would be willing to compromise the health of their family for such a trivial reason.
nineteenthly, Feb 12 2009

       //reluctance on the part of fathers for the mothers of their own children to expose their breast//   

       Then we should just replace the "Breast is best" slogan with "If in doubt, get 'em out".
wagster, Feb 12 2009

       Actually yes, maybe humour would work.
nineteenthly, Feb 12 2009

       I think this is a "Let's all" so move to mark for deletion.   

       As an afterthought: what the heck kind of report shows that bottle milk is worse?? I have raised one child on bottle and one on breast. They are both perfect and perfectly healthy. Studies here in the Netherlands show that they are equally good. Breastfed baby's need vitamine K supplement, bottle fed baby's lack the antigens produced by the mother but they make up for that on their own.   

       So lets NOT all tell mothers when or when not to breastfeed. If men want to give their nipples to the purpose, thén they can perhaps join in the discussion but certainly no doctor is going to tell me to completely give up my night rest (and the rest!) just cause its 'supposed' to be better.   

       Still refering to the time old saying: Lies, damn lies and statistics....
Susan, Feb 12 2009

       // i mean free and prescription only. // Absolutely not.   

       Why not impose legal limits on the foods that parents can give their children between the ages of 3 and 16? That would have a far greater effect on their health. Most of the "ban the bottle" mob base their arguments on marginal or non- existent health consequences and overarching morality.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 12 2009

       // what the heck kind of report shows that bottle milk is worse??   

       Lots of them - I thought the advantages of breast milk over formula were rather well-documented. I can make you a list, but it's really ridiculously easy to find lots of that online. Can you link to the Netherlands study you've mentioned?   

       // Still refering to the time old saying: Lies, damn lies and statistics....   

       Yes, one needs to understand statistics to judge the quality of claims that people make based on them. Just like one needs to understand anatomy to read an X-ray. I think they're still the best tool for evaluating claims we have.   

       On the main idea: (-) I see what you're trying to do, but I don't want something that fills a real need to be made this much more expensive and complicated.
jutta, Feb 12 2009

       //more expensive// - that depends on the prescription system in your country. In the UK, for example, being a product prescribed for an infant, it would be a free prescription actually making formula milk somewhat less expensive. Of course, if you are in a country that doesn't provide free medicine for children that's not a valid argument.   

       Might I suggest that merely moving it to OTC status might be enough? That way anyone wishing to buy would have to go the pharmacy and explain to their local pharmacist why they want it. It would mean putting a human there in the chain who could give referrals to lactation consultants if required. Just taking it off supermarket shelves and putting it behind the pharmacist's counter could well be enough to achieve most of the aims of this idea.
vincevincevince, Feb 13 2009

       I object to the notion that mothers should be required to explain anything to anybody. I'm not saying mothers are perfect -- that would be spooky and weird -- but as an institution, motherhood sets a standard that nothing else humans have ever known even approaches.   

       Let's go fix something that's broken. Surely there's an ample supply of *that* stuff.
colorclocks, Feb 13 2009

       I can't really claim to have any valid perspective on the specifics in this idea: I'm neither mother nor father to any infants. However a few points about some of the arguments here.   

       As a society, we're getting increasingly bad at understanding what responsibility is. To those who say that "mothers know best", I call bullshit. Mothers, as a group, like any other group, don't necessarily know very much at all. Many, most mothers take their responsibilities very very seriously and take the time to formulate their opinions based on a variety of sources of information... But that's far from universal.   

       I have wittnessed, amongst friends and aquaintances of mine some attrociously oblivious behaviour on behalf of (predominantly young, although this is because most mothers I"ve known were young) mothers. (Note, I've seen more, and worse behaviour from those that weren't mothers - but I'm talking specifically about motherhood here). This includes binge drinking, soft and hard drug abuse, casual, unprotected sex with strangers, smoking, aggressive dieting, etc, and this is just whilst pregnant. Amongst young mothers I've seen abuse, physical and emotional, a total lack of understanding about what a young child's diet should be (ie a diet consisting of more than 50% junk food for a toddler, cause mummy likes mcdonalds), and perhaps worst, withholding of medical care for sick children - in a country where medical care is free. Mostly I hold my peace because it's not my place to tell people how to live their lives, and saying anything usually has the exact opposite effect than desired, but it's not easy sometimes. Once again, the vast majority of young mothers I've known have been model parents, but the fact that this is the majority, not the entirety is the point I'm making.   

       This will be interpreted (of course it will) as a dig at all young mothers, and really I wish it wouldn't be. What it is, is a big dig at young people (including myself when I was young) in general, and at a society that does not teach young people how to be responsible, for anything, and in fact does just the opposite. "it's my life and I'll do what I want, and I don't care what anyone says". Tragically, maturity, competency and understanding of responsibility is totally disconnected from actual ability to produce children.   

       There are many, many babies out there being raised on formula from birth, the reasons for many (not all, probably not even most, but some) of these instances is simply that the mother does not want to breastfeed, does not want "saggy boobs", wants to work full time, does not want the hassle, etc. In light of much evidence indicating that formula is definitely not okay on it's own, perhaps there should be some form of control. Or at least more, and more widespread discussion, such as this one here.   

       <anno marked for expiry because it's certain to get me blasted with abuse that I probably well deserve>
Custardguts, Feb 13 2009

       //This includes binge drinking, soft and hard drug abuse, casual, unprotected sex with strangers, smoking, aggressive dieting, etc, //
Sounds like an average Saturday night out in most UK towns.
coprocephalous, Feb 13 2009

       Concerning the healthy food and children situation, whereas i don't think placing that sort of restriction really makes sense, i do think a levy used for subsidy of other food could work in theory. One of the plus points of breastfeeding is that it's cheaper than bottlefeeding. You're talking about replacing a cheap way of feeding a baby with an expensive way of doing so which can't be opted out of. I don't see how that's in anyone's interest and it sounds very much like someone getting hooked on a recreational drug to me. If you assume there's no difference between the value of bottlefeeding and breastfeeding either in terms of bonding or nutritional effects, that's still a consideration.
The comment about doctors seems to miss the point. Not all doctors are male and a probably the majority of people in the other categories are female. Male doctors are unlikely to be the people doing this in the scenario i imagine: they are much more likely to be women with children.
[Susan], yes this absolutely could be a "let's all", which is one reason i resisted posting it for so long. However, i would ask you to consider the cost issue.
Parenting is something nearly everyone tries to do well and everyone makes mistakes in. I can't say i feel very positive about my own parenting skills. Concerning men breastfeeding babies, believe it or not i have actually tried this, and reputedly there are men who have succeeded with this, but unsurprisingly i failed, and it also felt like i was somehow invading women's territory.
[Jutta], yes i know and the idea is, as i said, flawed, but what can be done instead? I presume you have the administrative side of things in mind when you refer to it being expensive.
[vvv], OTC is something i thought about, but it opens a new, broader issue concerning libertarianism. On the one hand, it would mark it out as a drug, but then what isn't? On the other, maybe nothing at all should be POM. I know someone with Hashimoto's encephalopathy, a condition where anti-thyroid antibodies cause progressive brain damage (diagnosed by several neurologists, incidentally, not me). She would almost certainly benefit from IV steroids, and in fact when she had them for an unrelated condition, it seemed to relieve her neurological problem, but since IV steroids are POM, she has no option but to try to get them prescribed. Making everything OTC would solve that problem, though it would also create a lot of others. So, could you apply the argument that this approach is patronising, which it is though i've tried to minimise that angle, to prescription medication?
Finally, i think mothers and fathers vary. We almost all try to do the right thing by our children but we almost all fail somewhere and we're not perfect.
nineteenthly, Feb 13 2009

       I haven't found a dutch studie in english yet, so I'll go and try to find the study done by the university of Edinbourough. Points of interests are: The basis for the claim that breastfeeding improves intelligence is a study done in 1957 or so and has since then been quoted over and over but never really retested. Kinda like the study on cholestorol...   

       Studies quoted are often studies done in thirdworld countries (WHO) where breastfeeding is indeed much better due to the health hazards of the available water (needed to make the bottlemilk). Countries like the Netherlands have outstanding water quality and thus there are no known risks.   

       The effect found of breastfed children being more intelligent can be related directly to the fact that the women giving the breastfeeding were mostly highly educated women thus the effect shown can be related to genetics.   

       The only true merit breastfeeding has over bottle milk is that of the available antigens. Thus breastfed children are less likely to have an earinfection at an early age and are commonly more resilient to flu virussus. The latter being said... My breastfed son was in the hospital for 3 days due to RS (cold strain) virus and has recently recovered from the flu. My bottle fed daughter hasn't seen the hospital since the day she was born in it.   

       Bottle milk on the other hand allready has all the neccessary vitamins and does not need supplements as opposed to breastmilk where the baby needs to receive vitamine K and after 3 months vitamine D.   

       The main flaw I see in this idea is that there are doctors involved and contrary to popular belief, doctors are also only human. I can imagine a woman suffering from post partum stress with an indifferent, hell-bent on-doing-the-right-thing no-matter-what-the-costs doctor telling the woman she is not getting the formula, she needs to shape up and stop acting plain ridiculus and do what nature intended her to do.   

       Trying not to think about all the single mums who have to work for their money and can not afford to breastfeed...
Susan, Feb 13 2009

       // The basis for the claim that breastfeeding improves intelligence is a study done in 1957 or so and has since then been quoted over and over but never really retested.   

       There was a very large randomized trial with maternity hospitals in Belarus, following kids over many years, that completed in 2005. See link for an abstract. Belarus isn't the Netherlands, but it's no 3rd world country either.
jutta, Feb 13 2009

       I don't know anyone who breastfed who supplemented with Vitamin K or anyone whose baby has hæmorrhaged as a result of that not being done, and i have dealt with hundreds of them. Babies born by CS need it but it sounds like an effect of excessive hygiene to me otherwise.   

       Just to point out that i'm also the healthiest person i know and i was completely bottlefed.   

       I would say that regardless of this, there are other advantages. You can't make your own formula easily from scratch, but lactation happens without conscious intervention. It seems odd that anyone would want to replace something which is close to being free and easily available with something which they would have to buy. The advantages concerning the specific immune response i find completely convincing. The disadvantage of exclusive breastfeeding i can see would be interference with bonding between the parents, but i think romantic love is overrated as a strategy anyway.
nineteenthly, Feb 13 2009

       At some point in the analysis of a problem, often it seems like more regulation is an ideal solution. Later, it may appear that that was not the case.   

       Frankly, having babies being a prescription-only option is beginning to look good.
normzone, Feb 13 2009

       As a dad of two, one breastfed, one bottlefed I would say the decision lies with the mother and ANY pressure on it is wrong. Being pregnant and delivering is stressfull even if all goes well and then there is the lack of sleep, the hormones etc.   

       As for the study mentioned in the link. It does clearly not prove that breastfed children are more intelligent because of the milk.   

       -breastfeeding provides the infant with regular intemite (sp?) contact with the mother. This is good for the child. A child that feels good is more likely to have better cognative skills.   

       -infants are often not breastfed because of problems. Problems are bad for the child and bad for the development of cognative skills.   

       -Sometimes children are bottlefed because the mother just doesn't care enough. If the parent doesn't care enough, the upbringing in general is bad for the development of cognative skills.   

       I could go on.   

       The results should have been crosslinked with the other conditions into which the child is born such as age of parents, income of parents, contact with grandparents, brothers and sisters, first or second child, etc. etc.   

       Statistics are tools, a true craftsmen can make anything with them.   

       -on the idea.
zeno, Feb 13 2009

       Thank you for the link Jutta it has strengthened my aversion against the use of statistics. If you follow the link I posted you will see that the least and the highest were thrown in a pot and then an average was produced. Verbal ranged from -3.3 (!) to 9.1.   

       The conclusion is that there is strong evidence that prolonged breastfeeding increases cognitive abilities. The evidence being an average.   

       //I don't know anyone who breastfed who supplemented with Vitamin K or anyone whose baby has hæmorrhaged as a result of that not being done// It is a policy issued by midwives and backed by government policy. Also note that vitamine D supplement is needed for breastfed children.   

       //You can't make your own formula easily from scratch, but lactation happens without conscious intervention.// I think you'll be surprised at how many women don't lactate that easily but have to bend over backwards to get just enough.   

       //It seems odd that anyone would want to replace something which is close to being free// It isn't actually. Making milk will cost your body a bundle. A cannister of bottle milk costs 10 euro's and will last about 1 1/2 week. Breastfeeding cost me a loaf of bread a day, wíth everything on it: meat, cheese, vegetables, butter. And thats just breakfast and lunch.   

       Normzone. Its like Calum once said:"by attempting to create more rules. This, obviously, leads to nothing more than narrower, and more complex spaces between rules, which leads to a greater number of areas of uncertainty and, ultimately, to more lawyers."   

       EDIT: If the basis for your idea is your anger at the excuse of "whipping them out" then try to find something to remedy that. Instant erictibles for breastfeeding moms or so. It looks to me like a cultural thing. Prudish behaviour to be exact.
Susan, Feb 13 2009

       That doesn't correspond to my experience at all. I only know very few women who don't breastfeed. Vitamin D is from daylight, not dietary sources, unless you eat animal products. I have come across rickets and osteomalacia, but only in people of South Asian origin who have a lot of dairy in their diets. To me, that suggests most people i know are getting it from daylight rather than food. It may be that midwives recommend that, but i'm referring to hour long interviews with the parents of breastfeeding babies and no-one has ever mentioned that. Some of those mothers were midwives.   

       Concerning food, a loaf of bread, as i've mentioned before, costs maybe twenty pence the way i make it, i.e. as sourdough with dechlorinated water and flour bought in bulk. Ten euros a week is around seven pounds. For this family of four, that's our entire income. That ignores the time we would have to spend finding and burning wood to heat the water, which would be better spent foraging, i think. I'm genuinely sorry, but if we had bought baby formula instead of breastfeeding our children in our current financial circumstances, it really would have led to starvation.   

       This is not about statistics but our own experience. It may be that you are living further north than we do, which might explain the vitamin D issue. I live fifty-two and a half degrees north, in the English Midlands.   

       Having said that, i completely agree that the introduction of rules has that effect and that it's a bad thing.   

       Yes, it is a cultural thing, but i can remember children being fed through the bars of the school gates when i was a child, and that was nearly forty years ago. I don't think it's about prudery so much as the idea that women's breasts are the property of their partners, and that's what i find disturbing. I also find it disturbing that after forty years, the situation seems to have gone backwards.
nineteenthly, Feb 13 2009

       // Thank you for the link Jutta it has strengthened my aversion against the use of statistics. If you follow the link I posted you will see that the least and the highest were thrown in a pot and then an average was produced. Verbal ranged from -3.3 (!) to 9.1.   

       Susan, the abstract both our links point to report numbers as averages and 95% intervals - that's in order to give readers an idea about the data's distribution. The reported number is not calculated as the difference of the interval boundaries divided by two; that would indeed not make sense, unless the distribution were somehow guaranteed to be symmetrical.   

       If you don't like or don't understand statistics, that's fine, don't use studies to support your point. But you were complaining about their absence, and that complaint, at least, is unfounded.
jutta, Feb 14 2009

       There seem to be a few misunderstandings or old wives tales popping up... so here are a few corrections:
- single mums are able to buy or rent breast pumps (cheap compared to formula 'milk' costs); hence it is always affordable and always cheaper to breastfeed
- Vitamin D supplements are only needed when parents refuse to take their child out regularly. Also thought to cause vision deficiencies due to never having the time to gaze on the sky.
- Problems with lactation, especially with the first child, are common. Some good herbal teas (particularly fenugreek and jasmine) and a few days patience work wonders here. It is essential that formula is not given 'whilst we wait for the breastmilk' as that stops the infant stimulating lactation.
- Cost of lactation - during pregnancy the body lays down fat. Don't up your food intake and that fat will disappear fast. In addition, we found breast feeding saved money from the food bill - in particular due to making much more food at home and cutting out junk food, tea, coffee and alchohol.

       Formula milk was originally promoted as 'better for the baby'; and it is the hangover from that malicious marketing that means we need this kind of idea at all.
vincevincevince, Feb 14 2009

       //The reported number is not calculated as the difference of the interval boundaries divided by two;// I did not say that. To my knowledge, statistic throw away the lowest and the highest because they interfere with the average too much. Average is calculated by noting the values, how much they have occured and then dividing them by the number of occurences, disposing of both the highest and the lowest. So in this case, as I read it, they had a -3.3 in cognitive increase(decrease) and a +9.1 increase but those were the lowest and the highest and were hense ignored.   

       Vitamine D can indeed be get from the sun and over here it comes in oh so handy bottles. It is advised by our goverment since vitamine D makes it much more effective for the body to absorb calcium. Being in the sun does not negate the need for vitamine D.   

       Ninenteenthly: I'm starting to think you áre in a thirdworld country. In that case I can understand why you would want to promote breastfeading over bottlemilk. The water over there is in most cases too dangerous too use.   

       Buying flour in bulk and then baking your own bread is nice if you have the time. Pressuming that every woman will have the time to buy flour, fourage and what not (in cities and all mind you) is taking your own personal situation as a rule for everybody else. Btw, Did you put something on it too?   

       Vincevincevince: The bodyfat is stored and used for the first few weeks of lactation. After that a woman will háve to increase the food intake, depending on the babies needs or else the milk production will be reduced. We almost never eat junkfood so couldn't save on that maybe that is why we payd so much more for weekly groceries or maybe it just depends on the baby...   

       Which returns me to your: breastmilk is always cheaper. It is plain out wrong. But using the word 'always' does that to a statement.   

       EDIT: you live in england <nineteenthly>. I'm starting to get really confused about your situation.
Susan, Feb 14 2009

       I'm not in a third world country, it's just that i have never cracked the problem of getting anyone to employ me, so i'm self-employed and i don't claim benefits. Consequently, our income is currently about four hundred pounds a year, which i would say was about average for the world as a whole. It also means i'm time-rich but money-poor. Fortunately, there's a strong tendency for people to throw things away that are useful in the kind of society i live in, so there's no fuel or clothing problem and i pay rent in kind rather than as money. Whereas my turnover is actually quite high financially, almost all of it is spent on advertising, insurance, CPD and membership fees of professional bodies, so my profit from my business is maybe three or four percent. Therefore, we have an income of four hundred or so pounds which we can actually spend on trivia like food and water. I'm describing the enormous difficulty of making a living as a herbalist.   

       The water anywhere is not necessarily too dangerous to use if enough of it falls from the sky, which in some places it doesn't, but it wouldn't be safe to drink without some means of sterilisation. Alpha globulins are a means of sterilisation, so why not turn it into nutrition for babies that way?   

       I don't recognise the situation you describe either among the people i know personally, most of whom are women who currently or previously breastfed, or among my patients, most of whom breastfeed in those circumstances.   

       I don't expect anyone else to follow any kind of example they may imagine i'm setting, but there's a variety of lifestyles among people i know. In general, however, they do breastfeed unproblematically and that has to be significant somehow.   

       Finally, the bread. Yes i tend to put stuff on it, mainly hoummos, which breaks down as sesame seeds (in bulk at trade prices, so yes, that's an advantage i have), chickpeas (in large quantities but not in bulk), limes (available from dumpsters near the fruit market and more efficient sources of citric acid than others) and garlic (grown and therefore free).   

       You may get the impression i'm living in a third world country - no, i live in the English Midlands. I get the impression you live in Scandinavia. Out of curiosity, is that so?
nineteenthly, Feb 14 2009

       OK, just to clarify. I have no money because i'm a herbalist and have no other income. This means that whereas i do get money, most of it goes on insurance, professional development, membership of professional bodies and, to a small extent, herbs. I don't claim benefits because i regard taxation as a form of slavery. The result is that we have hardly any money.
nineteenthly, Feb 14 2009

       [Nineteenthly] You are Weird. I like it.
zeno, Feb 15 2009

       Thanks, [zeno]. Others have noted the same with considerably more irritation.
nineteenthly, Feb 15 2009

       I was formula fed, and my kids were breast fed. They are whole lot smarter than me. Therefore, breast feeding makes you smarter.   

       BTW, did anyone else notice the category?
nomocrow, Sep 25 2010

       [nineteenthly] //i regard taxation as a form of slavery.// And yet you are poor. And you won't accept benefits, so even if your benefits exceeded your taxes, you still would regard taxation as a form of slavery for those wealthier than yourself.   

       A living counterexample to the claim that "principled" opposition to taxation is invariably a mask for self- interest.   

       By doing this, you provide cover for those in whom it *is* merely a mask. Is there any moral onus attached to that? (I admire your moral rigor, but I can't pass up an opportunity to split hairs.)
mouseposture, Sep 25 2010

       The health benefits to both mother and child of breastfeeding are clear and well documented. It's not just about antigens, there are a whole raft of benefits.   

       It's true that the UK has dreadfully low breastfeeding rates. In fact, our initiation rates are 70%+ so the message of 'breast is best' (actually 'breast is normal' is more accurate) is getting across. The fundamental problem is that there is a serious lack of understanding and support within the NHS. GPs telling mothers with mastitis to stop breastfeeding, for example, or health visitors who are completely unaware of what is normal or how to deal with a dodgy latch. So women (and their families) are let down time and time again. It's one reason I'm training to be a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor - not because I'm a breastfeeding Nazi, but because I hate to see women beating themselves up when breastfeeding doesn't work out.   

       This system exists in Sweden, I believe. However, it's backed up with excellent awareness and knowledge of breastfeeding throughout society. That means that women who struggle are given the right support in the first place. It also means that those who genuinely can't breastfeed, or who make an informed decision not to do so, are validated, rather than made to feel like pariahs.   

       In the UK we need to work on lots of things, not least societal perceptions. I choose not to read the comments on Daily Mail articles about breastfeeding these days - it's so depressing to hear so many people who really believe that breastfeeding in public is offensive yet accept that it's OK to have naked women on page 3 of the Sun every day.
hazel, Sep 26 2010

       Thanks. I only have a fairly flippant comment right now. The Mail has a bigger female readership than the Sun, so i'm not sure they would be happy with Page Three, and the division between the two newspapers, which are both right wing and sensationalist, is really between being cheerful and miserable, and this is an important distinction.
nineteenthly, Sep 26 2010

       They do have a bigger female readership but that doesn't stop extreme misogyny from both writers and readers. Don't get me started on the pile of anti-feminist, masquerading as liberated woman crap that is the Mail's women's supplement, Femail.
hazel, Sep 27 2010

       No argument there, Hazel.
nineteenthly, Sep 27 2010


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