Thursday, September 30, 2010

Early Spanking Increases Toddler Aggression, Lowers IQ

By Jennifer Thomas
posted with permission from HealthDay

Children who are spanked as 1-year-olds are more likely to behave aggressively and perform worse on cognitive tests as toddlers than children who are spared the physical punishment, new research shows.

Though the negative effects of spanking were "modest," the study adds to a growing body of literature finding spanking is not good for children.

"Age 1 is a key time for establishing the quality of the parenting and the relationship between parent and the child," said study author Lisa J. Berlin, a research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. "Spanking at age 1 reflects a negative dynamic, and increases children's aggression at age 2."

The study is published in the September/October issue of Child Development.

Berlin and her colleagues looked at data on 2,500 white, Mexican American and black children from low-income families. The data included parents' reports about their children's behavior, their use of spanking, as well as home visits by trained observers to document parent-child interactions at ages 1, 2 and 3.

About one-third of mothers of 1-year-olds reported they or someone in their household had spanked their child in the last week, while about half of the mothers of 2- and 3-year-olds reported that their child had been spanked.

The average number of spankings for 1-year-olds was 2.6 per week, while the average for 2-year-olds was three spankings per week.

The study found that children who were spanked at age 1 had more aggressive behaviors at age 2 and performed worse on measures of thinking abilities at age 3.

Being spanked at age 2, however, did not predict more aggressive behaviors at age 3, possibly because the spanking had begun at age 1 and by the age of 2 the kids were already more aggressive, Berlin said...

Read More at...

Goldie Hawn and Daniel Siegel On Mindfulness For Children At TEDMED

Actress Goldie Hawn spoke at the TEDMED conference about her "very big, very broad dream" of bringing happiness to children. "I thought, let's do something drastic," she said. "Lets hope and pray for all kids to experience happiness."
She turned this big dream into an innovative program called "MindUP" -- a curriculum that goes beyond academics, teaching children how to be in touch with their emotions and manage stress through focused breathing, focused attention, relaxation and awareness.

Wise Words From John W. Travis, MD, MPH

Why Men Leave

Infant Wellness / Genital Integrity

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

7 Breastfeeding Facts You Should Know

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Breastfeeding, while natural and normal to all mammals, can occasionally be a bit of a mystery to those who haven't looked into human lactation and the science behind it. Counselors from the 
Australian Breastfeeding Association recently put together their top seven facts mothers should know to make breastfeeding easier. They stress the following facts for nursing moms:

1) For babies, breastfeeding is an instinct. Provided birth (during and after) is not interrupted or messed with (induction, drugs, surgery, pain) babies are born with the instinct to breastfeed, and they nurse easily when given the opportunity to follow their primal instincts.

2) For mothers, breastfeeding is a learned skill. It is normal to need plenty of help and for it to take a few weeks to feel confident breastfeeding. This is especially true if a mother has not grown up in a culture that values and empowers nursing mothers - one where she grew up witnessing a wide variety of nursing babies and their mothers. This 
nipple latch technique has helped many moms who need some extra skills to help baby latch properly (so that nursing is comfortable). Visiting with a skilled lactation consultant in person is also extremely valuable in perfecting latch early on in one's breastfeeding career.

Skin-to-skin contact helps babies learn to breastfeed more easily and supports the nursing relationship (and milk supply) hormonally. When a baby of any age is held skin-to-skin against his mother's chest he is more able to follow his instincts and attach well to the breast. This skin-to-skin contact influences mother's milk to let down, and for her supply to become hearty.

4) The cues that a baby is hungry include:
Sucking on her fingers
Sucking on his fist
Turning her head from side to side
Opening and closing her mouth (fishy lips)
Smacking his lips
Poking out her tongue

Crying is the 
last sign of late (advanced) hunger and babies attach to the breast more easilybefore they reach this desperate, hungry, crying stage. Imagine you are hungry but cannot do anything to get yourself the food you need... first, you ask for it by the means of communication you have. If your repeated requests are ignored, and you become famished, you eventually cry out in anguish, begging someone to pay attention to your need to be fed. Babies' stomachs are very tiny (especially in the first months of life) and while they fill up quickly, they also empty very quickly and baby will be genuinely hungry again soon. Learning your baby's cues and attending to them right away will increase breastfeeding success (and a happy, content baby).

5) Gently massaging the breast towards the nipple while the baby is feeding can increase how much milk the baby gets and help a sleepy baby get more milk. Running a finger or thumb lightly across the baby's chin or cheek will encourage the baby to take another gulp and consume more without falling asleep.

6) Every mother's breastmilk storage capacity is different and this can affect how often a baby breastfeeds or whether a baby will solely nurse on one side at a time, or take both breasts at each nursing session. A mother with a smaller storage capacity may find her baby breastfeeds more often and this is normal for her and her baby - it is not a sign that she doesn't make enough milk. Another mother may find that she has a large storage capacity and her baby nurses less often and takes in more at one time - this is normal for her and her baby. All mothers can increase milk supply by fully emptying the breasts more often. Adjustments in milk supply are easily made in the first 30 days. After that time, it becomes much more difficult, so during the first month post-birth it is essential to nurse on cue and pump extra if you wish to stock up a frozen supply for down the road (or plan to 
return to work).

7) Emptying the breast is what sends the message to a mother's body to make more milk, so the more often a baby feeds (or the more often the mother pumps) the more milk will be made. It is a matter of basic supply and demand. The body makes more when it is told that it needs more (through frequent use and being emptied). If supplements are used (formula or other solid foods) then nursing/pumping decreases, telling the body that not as much milk is needed - and supply drops. This is the reason supplementing (when a mother doesn't think she has enough milk) is counterproductive and actually leads to a 
drop in milk supply - the very thing she may have been worried about to begin with. If a mother is pumping, she should strive to fully empty the breasts (in the early months of breastfeeding or anytime she wishes to increase supply). This means to pump for 3 minutes after the very last drop of milk comes out, or for 25 minutes - whichever comes first.

For additional information on milk supply see resources at the bottom of this article:
 Lactation Cookies: Increasing Milk Supply

For helpful information on breastfeeding, see books, websites, and articles for nursing moms at 
Breastfeeding Resources

The Joy of Cloth


The Joy of Cloth

by Jane McConnell
Mothering, Issue 88

I have three children in diapers--a nine month old, a two year old, and a four year old who wets at night. In rough numbers, this means our household has changed more than 20,000 dirty diapers in four years.
diapered babyNow, I'm not a glutton for punishment, and like all working mothers I don't have a lot of spare time. But I've chosen cloth diapers over disposables from the beginning. Like breastfeeding and drug-free childbirth, cloth diapering has always seemed to me to be the most "natural" approach. Yet, even in an environmentally conscious town like Boulder, Colorado, I'm surprised at how few parents use cloth. Some are put off by the perceived inconvenience; others have argued that cloth diapers are actually more harmful to the environment than disposables. To aid you in your own decision, or to help you educate your friends who are new parents, here is a current look at some of the issues involved in cloth and disposable diapering.
Which Is Better for the Environment?
To most, the environmental impact of disposable paper-and-plastic versus reusable cotton diapers seems clear-cut. But delve into the facts, and things begin to get murky.

The debate started to get heated in 1990, the 20th anniversary year of Earth Day.
Environmental awareness was at a peak, and many states were considering initiatives to tax or ban the sale of disposable diapers. Procter & Gamble, the nation's largest manufacturer of disposable diapers, fearing a loss of market share, commissioned a study by Arthur D. Little, Inc., on the environmental impact of disposable diapers. The study came to the conclusion that, lo and behold, disposables were actually no worse for the environment than cloth diapers. Procter & Gamble followed with an ad showing tree roots in compost, stating, "90 days ago this was a disposable diaper." After several lawsuits based on the fact that composting facilities for disposable diapers do not actually exist, the ad was pulled, but not until millions of parents had read and believed it. Meanwhile, the National Association of Diaper Services sponsored several reports of its own, prepared by consultant Carl Lehrburger, showing that there was a clear environmental advantage to using cloth diapers.
So which study was right? It depends on your bias. Sponsored research, or any research for that matter, is inherently subjective. The set of assumptions you start with--How many diaper changes will a baby go through in a day? Is the life of a cloth diaper 100 uses or 150?--will greatly influence the outcome of the study. Ultimately, the Little study was deemed misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority in Great Britain, and Proctor & Gamble was prohibited from mentioning the study in its advertising. However, public opinion had already been influenced.
Some of the facts: 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in landfills each year, taking as many as 500 years to decompose. Disposable diapers make up the third largest source of solid waste in landfills, after newspapers and food and beverage containers--a significant fact, considering they are a single product, used by a limited portion of the population.1 It takes upwards of 82,000 tons of plastic and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp, or a quarter-million trees, to manufacture the disposable diapers that cover the bottoms of 90 percent of the babies born in the US.2
Some will argue that in areas where water is scarce, disposables are the better environmental choice. However, carrying this argument to the extreme, we should be wearing disposable clothes, and using paper plates and plastic utensils. Washing cloth diapers at home uses 50 to 70 gallons of water every three days--about the same as a toilet-trained child or adult flushing the toilet five to six times a day. A diaper service puts its diapers through an average of 13 water changes, but because of the economies of scale, uses less water and energy per diaper than one laundry load at home.
Today, as a rule diaper services use biodegradable detergents not harmful phosphates. The waste water produced from washing diapers is benign, while the waste water from the manufacture of the pulp, paper, and plastics used in disposable diapers contains dioxins, solvents, sludge, and heavy metals.3 Chlorine bleach, whose manufacture is harmful to the atmosphere, is used in whitening diaper service diapers, but the environmental impact is far greater in the paper-bleaching process used in making disposable diapers.4
Cotton, of course, is not without its evils. Conventionally grown, it is a major user of harmful pesticides. There are, however, several companies offering organically grown, unbleached cotton diapers as an alternative.
Ultimately, instead of getting bogged down in each side's scientific data, the most commonsense approach is to use commonsense. Weigh the impact of manufacturing and disposing of 8,000 paper-and-plastic diapers over the average diapering period of a child versus that of a few dozen cotton diapers, and decide for yourself which is better for the environment.
Which Is Better for the Baby? 
With all the focus on environmental issues, the baby often gets overlooked in a discussion of cloth versus disposable diapers. All parents want to do what's best for their baby, but many people aren't aware of, or don't consider, the short-term and long-term health effects of their diapering choice.

Although the disposable diaper industry spends millions of dollars on ad campaigns touting the fact that their diapers feel drier, there is no benefit to the baby in terms of diaper rash. In fact, diaper rash is caused by numerous factors ranging from food irritations to soaps used on the baby's skin, and the number one factor in preventing it is frequent diaper changes. For this reason, babies in disposable diapers may experience more diaper rash; because the diapers feel dry, parents tend to change them as infrequently as every four to five hours. But though the outer layer may appear dry, bacteria from the urine is still present in the baby's diaper, and still comes in contact with the baby's skin.5 Furthermore, plastic does not "breathe" to let out the ammonia formed in the bacterial breakdown of urine, while a cotton diaper and nylon or wool wrap are breathable, allowing air to circula te to the baby's skin, keeping it healthy.
Of more serious concern are the toxic chemicals present in disposable diapers. Dioxin, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, and skin diseases, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers, and trace quantities may exist in the diapers themselves.6
And what about the material that makes "superabsorbent" diapers so absorbent? If you've ever used disposable diapers, you've probably noticed beads of clear gel on your baby's genitals after a diaper change. Superabsorbent diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, which absorbs up to 100 times its weight in water. Sodium polyacrylate is the same substance that was removed from tampons in 1985 because of its link to toxic shock syndrome.7 No studies have been done on the long-term effects of this chemical being in contact with a baby's reproductive organs 24 hours a day for upwards of two years.
Neither type of diaper can claim to be more sanitary. In the early 1990s, right around the time many states were considering offering incentives to hospitals and daycare centers to switch to cloth diapers, disposable diaper manufacturers attempted to prove that cloth diapers contribute more to the spread of bacteria. In fact, it is the caregiver's hand-washing habits, and not the type of diapers, that is the deciding factor. "The research in this area was funded by special interests," points out Janet Primomo, RN, PhD, associate professor of nursing at the University of Washington, Tacoma. "It's not a question of whether cloth or disposables are more sanitary--it all depends on practices and procedures, such as hand washing habits and what kind of storage containers are used."
There is, however, a more serious threat of contamination from disposable diapers, because of human sewage going into landfills. The disposal of human waste in residential garbage is technically prohibited, and instructions on disposable diaper packaging recommend that you shake out any fecal matter into the toilet before disposing of it; but in practice this is almost never done. Live viruses in the feces, such as the polio vaccine, can live in landfills for a long period, and if there were ever any leakage, could potentially contaminate a community's drinking water. So far, there has been no evidence of contamination--this is more of a concern in Third World countries, where landfills aren't as well constructed, and disposable diapers are being marketed aggressively.
What About the Inconvenience of Cloth Diapering? 
It's true that the thought of rinsing, soaking, and laundering dozens of cloth diapers a week is overwhelming to most new parents. But if you're a parent, you're doing laundry around the clock anyway, and what's a few more loads a week? However, it's not for everyone--and that's where diaper services come in. Many parents don't realize that with a diaper service there's no rinsing or soaking involved. You don't even need to flush solids away--you simply throw the soiled diaper directly into a diaper pail lined with a garbage liner. Once a week, you put the bag of dirties out, and a bag of fresh, clean diapers is delivered to your door. Can that really be considered less convenient than throwing a disposable diaper in the trash and taking an extra garbage can out to the curb each week? In fact, with a diaper service there's the added convenience of not having to remember to buy diapers--you simply never run out.

Yes, you do have to rinse out the occasional soiled diaper cover, and tote back soiled diapers from an outing. But this is really no more inconvenient than sorting glass and cardboard for recycling, and most of us don't think twice about that. And you don't have to be a purist. I personally feel that disposable diapers (preferably the chemical-free variety) have their place when I'm traveling and not close to laundering facilities.
Even home laundering diapers isn't necessarily as time-consuming as you may think. Ginny Caldwell of Ecobaby argues that it takes less time to dump a load of cloth diapers into the washing machine and transfer them to the dryer than it does to shop for disposables, load them into the car, unload them at home, and take out an extra garbage can once a week.
But Isn't a Diaper Service Expensive?
Although a diaper service seems like a luxury, in fact it can cost considerably less than using disposables--and home-laundered cloth diapers are, of course, the cheapest alternative of all.

Each week, many parents think nothing of buying a pack of disposables, whose cost is often hidden in the grocery bill. But when you add it up over the entire diapering period, the costs are substantial. The figure, of course, depends on the number of diaper changes a day (as pointed out earlier, babies in disposables are often changed less frequently--at the expense of the baby's health) and the age at toilet training. But assuming an average two and a half-year diapering period, and an average of eight to ten diaper changes a day (based on every hour for newborns, every two hours for toddlers) this translates to 7,000 to 9,000 diapers over the diapering period. At an average price of $.24 per disposable diaper (premium diapers cost closer to $.33 apiece), the price tag for disposable diapering is around $2,000, plus several hundred dollars for garbage disposal costs of an additional can per week.
By contrast, diaper services charge anywhere from $10.00 to $15.00 a week, depending on the part of the country you're in. This works out to $1,300 to $2,000 over two and a half years, for clean diapers delivered to your door each week, the use of wraps in whatever size you need at the time, and a diaper pail. if you have more than one child in diapers, the price drops considerably (usually by 75 percent) for the second child.
Home diapering, on the other hand, can be done for as little as $400, or as much as $1,200, depending on the type of products you buy. Well-made products should last for subsequent children. Diapers can range anywhere from $20.00 a dozen for diaper service-quality prefolds, up to $60.00 or even $100 a dozen for fitted, contoured diapers with snaps or organic cotton diapers. You'll need somewhere between three and five dozen. Covers range from $4.00 to $18.00 apiece, depending on the quality and material, and you'll need up to 25 (about five in each size range). Figuring in detergents and energy costs of about $.60 per load, the average parent will spend well under $1,000--usually more like $500--for home diapering.
An Added Benefit: Earlier Potty-Training 
Another advantage to cloth diapers is that they usually lead to earlier toilet training because the child actually knows when he or she is wet. Now that many children go straight from disposable diapers to disposable pull-ups, it's not uncommon to see four and five year olds who still aren't completely potty-trained wearing pull-ups to school. This has an obvious impact on the child's self-esteem, not to mention the added impact on landfills.

"We get customers calling up to start a diaper service when their child is three and a half and not yet toilet trained," says Brian Smithson, president of the National Association of Diaper Services. In fact, several diaper services around the country are, as an incentive, starting to offer the service free after the 30th month if your child is not toilet trained by then.
"We live in a fast-paced society where people don't want to deal with the `yuck' factor," adds Smithson. "Parents look at a diaper as a container that doesn't leak and can be left on for eight hours, instead of looking at it as clothing worn on the most sensitive parts of the body. Shouldn't we b e changing babies when they wet?" Adds Erica Froese, owner of Mother-Ease Diapers, "A diaper is not meant to be used as a toilet."
The "Bottom" Line
Aside from the environmental and health arguments, many parents feel, as I do, that cotton is a purer, softer, simpler choice than paper and plastic, and that if their babies could vote, they'd choose cloth themselves. In fact, my four year old, who has tried pull-ups at night and inevitably wakes up with an itchy rash, has made it clear to me that she prefers cotton. Many cloth diaper companies are now offering adult sizes, as incontinent adults look for alternatives to the feeling of a mushy mass of paper wadded between their legs.

The bottom line is that choosing cloth diapers doesn't have to be a daunting prospect--it's simple, it's convenient, it's inexpensive. And it's the best choice you can make for the health of your baby, and of the planet.

(1.) EPA, "Positive Steps towards Waste Reduction," June 1989.
(2.) Rhode Island Solid Waste Management Corporation.
(3.) Cad Lehrburger with Rachel Snyder, `The Disposable Diaper Myth," Whole Earth Review (Fall 1988): 61.
(4.) See Note 3.
(5.) Nan Scott, "Nan Scott's Newsletter for Parents."
(6.) EPA, "Integrated Risk Assessment for Dioxins and Furans from Chlorine Bleaching in Pulp and Paper Mills."
(7.) Judy Braiman-Lipson, Empire State Consumer Association, Rochester, NY.

Jane McConnell and her husband, Jeff Heyman, share the diapering responsibilities for their children. She works as a part-time freelance writer and an associate editor for Mothering from her home in Boulder, Colorado.

10 Reasons NOT to Circumcise Your Baby Boy


Circumcision is a painful, risky, unethical surgery that deprives over a million boys each year of healthy, functional tissue, while wasting health care dollars that could be spent on medically necessary services. Learn more about the myths and facts of infant circumcision, visit our Resources page, read the "Ten Reasons NOT to Circumcise Your Baby Below" below – and learn why you should keep your newborn son intact.

10 Reasons NOT to Circumcise Your Baby Boy

  1. Because there is no medical reason for "routine" circumcision of baby boys. No professional medical association in the United States or the rest of the world recommends routine neonatal circumcision. The American Medical Association calls it "non-therapeutic." At no time in its 75 years has the American Academy of Pediatrics ever recommended infant circumcision.
  2. Because the foreskin is not a birth defect. The foreskin is a normal, sensitive, functional part of the body. In infant boys, the foreskin is attached to the head of the penis (glans), protects it from urine, feces, and irritation, and keeps contaminants from entering the urinary tract. The foreskin also has an important role in sexual pleasure, due to its specialized, erogenous nerve endings and its natural gliding and lubricating functions.
  3. Because you wouldn't circumcise your baby girl. In the United States, girls of all ages are protected by federal and state laws from forced genital surgery, whether practiced in medical or non-medical settings, and regardless of the religious or cultural preferences of their parents. There is no ethical rationale for distinguishing between female and male genital alteration. If it is wrong to remove part of a baby girl's healthy genitals, then it is wrong to do the same to those of a baby boy.
  4. Because your baby does not want to be circumcised. Circumcision painfully and permanently alters a baby boy's genitals, removing healthy, protective, functional tissue from the penis and exposing the child to unnecessary pain and medical risks –for no medical benefit. What do you think your baby boy would say if he could tell you?
  5. Because removing part of a baby's penis is painful, risky, and harmful. We know babies are sensitive to pain. Many circumcisions are performed with no analgesic, but even when pain control is employed, the pain is not eliminated. As with any surgery, complications can and do occur with circumcision. These include infection, abnormal bleeding, removal of too much skin, loss of all or part of the glans, urinary problems, and even death. All circumcisions result in the loss of the foreskin and its functions, and leave a penile scar.
  6. Because times and attitudes have changed. The circumcision rate in the United States is now below 40% (and much lower in some parts of the country), down from 81% in 1981. More than 60% of all baby boys in the U.S. leave the hospital intact, as more and more parents realize that circumcision is unnecessary and wrong.
  7. Because most medically advanced nations do not circumcise baby boys. People in Europe, Asia and Latin America are often appalled to hear that American doctors and hospitals remove part of a boy's penis shortly after birth. Approximately 75% of the men in the world are not circumcised and remain intact throughout their lives.
  8. Because caring for and cleaning the foreskin is easy. A natural, intact penis requires no special care, beyond gentle washing while bathing. Later, when the foreskin can be retracted (something that often does not occur until adolescence), a boy can be taught to pull back his foreskin to wash his penis. Forcible retraction of the foreskin results in pain and injury, and should not be done. Read our Foreskin Care flyer for more information.
  9. Because circumcision does not prevent HIV or other diseases. Over the years, the claims that circumcision prevents various diseases have repeatedly been proven to be exaggerated or outright fabrications. Most men in the United States are circumcised, but our STD rates are as high as or higher than those in countries where circumcision is rare.
  10. Because children should be protected from permanent bodily alteration inflicted on them without their consent in the name of culture, religion, profit, or parental preference. Under accepted bioethical principles, parents can consent to surgery on behalf of a child only if it is necessary to protect the child's life or health. "Routine" circumcision fails this test because it painfully and permanently removes a normal and healthy part of a boy's penis, does not protect the child’s life or health, and in fact creates new risks. Removing the foreskin is no more justified than removing a finger or any other healthy body part.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


"In all my time and effort spent researching the best ways to mother, I have come full circle to realize that in almost all cases, the best choices for the health of children and mothers are the ones you would make if stranded on a deserted island and forced to follow your instincts. Trust birth. Breastfeed. Keep your baby whole. Sleep by your baby. Wear your baby. Communicate with your baby. Listen and respond to your baby's cues and cries." ~ Jennifer Coias

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ten Things You May Not Know About Baby Formula

The use of baby formula as the primary method of infant feeding has exploded in popularity over the past few decades. Formula has become increasingly healthier in recent years with the addition of chemicals like DHA and lutein, both of which are naturally found in human milk. In spite of these advancements, there is some information that the manufacturers aren't advertising. Take a look at these ten little-known facts about infant formula.
1. The linings of formula cans contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a plastics chemical which mimics the female hormone estrogen. Exposure to BPA can potentially cause reproductive problems and early puberty. Experts are concerned that the chemical may leach into the formula and be ingested by infants, who are far more vulnerable to adverse effects from contaminants than adults. Liquid and ready-to-feed formulas are more susceptible to this leaching than powdered formulas. The FDA reports that they are currently accepting applications for alternative substances with which to line formula cans; however, they do not recommend changing a child's feeding habits based solely on this concern.
2. Feeding an infant formula can increase the child's risk of developing food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease, a disease which encompasses the chronic conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, according to new research performed by nutritionist Sharon Donovan at the University of Illinois. The study also shows an increased risk for asthma in formula-fed infants. These conditions result from the formula's inability to activate the appropriate immune system genes within the digestive tract. Without the activation of these genes, a child's digestive system is left vulnerable to a lifetime of adverse effects.
3. It is impossible to produce sterile powdered infant formula. According to the World Health Organization, current technology does not allow for powdered formula to be manufactured in such a way that it is sterile, even when it is produced within current hygienic guidelines.
4. Baby formula may be contaminated with the harmful bacteria enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella enterica. Since powdered formula cannot be manufactured to be sterile, these bacteria can be present and cause severe illness in children. The WHO reports that, although these organisms cannot thrive in dry formula, they can survive in it for up to and possibly exceeding one year. Once the formula is mixed, it provides an ideal habitat for the growth of these illness-causing bacteria. In rare cases, infection with these pathogens can even cause a child's death.
5. Formula feeding increases a child's risk of childhood obesity and of developing diabetes. A White House study, released by first lady Michelle Obama in May 2010, explains that babies who are formula-fed are 22 percent more likely to be obese. Formula derived from cow's milk contains about twice as much protein as human milk. This excess protein results in excess insulin production and prolonged insulin response. Even well into childhood, children who were formula-fed as infants show low levels of the hormon leptin, which is known to "inhibit appetite and control body fatness."
6. Soy-based formulas contain plant estrogens which can cause a variety of reproductive issues. Soy formulas are an alternative for children with cow's milk allergies and for vegan families. While studies have shown that obesity and diabetes risks are lower for children who consume soy-based formulas, they are not without their own set of dangers. A study published by The Society for the Study of Reproduction in March 2010 found that newborn mice who were fed a formula containing the soy plant estrogen genistein once daily developed various reproductive problems, as well as abnormalities of the thymus gland. The study mimicked the level of genistein that would be found in a human infant who was regularly fed soy formula. It raises serious questions about the safety and long-term effects of soy-based formulas in infants.
7. The FDA does not test infant formulas prior to their marketing and sale. While the FDA inspects manufacturing facilities and performs quality tests on formulas once a year, they do not test infant formula to ensure that it meets nutritional and quality requirements before it is allowed to be sold. Instead, the FDA relies solely on the manufacturers' own reports that their products meet federal standards.
8. Infant formulas often contain perchlorate, the base chemical in solid rocket fuels. In March 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study which found perchlorate in 15 brands of infant formula. The EPA insists that the levels of the chemical found in formula pose no threat to infants. However, according to the CDC, the drinking water in 26 states contains high levels of perchlorate. If tap water and powdered baby formula, both containing the hazardous chemical, are mixed together, the levels may be high enough to cause serious harm to infants.
9. FDA testing has revealed that some baby formulas also contain the chemicals melamine and cyanuric acid. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has stated that these chemicals "can cause renal failure by production of insoluble melamine cyanurate crystals in renal tubules and/or calculi in kidneys, ureter, urethra or the urinary bladder." In other words, when these chemicals are present in baby formula, they can cause kidneys stones, kidney and urinary blockages and infections, and kidney failure. In extreme cases, complications of these conditions may result in the deaths of infants. The FDA performs tests for melamine and cyanuric acid in baby formulas, which can be viewed on their website.
10. Many brands of formula contain ingredients which are generally acknowledged to contain or produce monosodium glutamate, or MSG. The organization Truth in Labeling provides information from a Canadian study which found MSG, a dangerous neurotoxin, in at least five brands of baby formula. Although testing was performed only on Canadian products, all five companies manufacture and sell products in the United States as well. The organization also names ingredients from four different types of U.S. baby formula which are known to contain MSG or to produce it during processing. These ingredients include enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, casein hydrolysate, carrageenan, and maltodextrin.
Unfortunately, the companies that manufacture infant formula do not always tell the entire story. Strict guidelines are put in place to help ensure the safety of formula-fed infants, but unfortunately some problems have still arisen with these infant products. It is imperative that parents have all the information possible and that our society continues to demand higher and higher standards in the production of products for our children and babies.
U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationInfant Formula
U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationFDA 101: Infant Formula
U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationDomestic Infant Formula Testing Results
Thea Edwards & Wendy Hessler, Environmental Health NewsSoy Formula Affects Reproductive Development in Mice
World Science & University of Illinois StaffWhy Is Breast Milk Best? It's in the Genes, Scientists Say
Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-PilotHow the Fight against Flab Can Start before Birth
January W. Payne, U.S. News & World Report5 Reasons That May Explain Why Type 1 Diabetes In on the Rise
World Health OrganizationQuestions and Answers on Melamine
European Centre for Disease Prevention and ControlMelamine Health Impact Assessment
Truth in LabelingInfant Formula
Let's MoveEarly Childhood