'Silence' on risks of baby formula

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* Leo Shanahan, Canberra * March 10, 2009

FORMULA feeding is not being described as a health risk to children because researchers are too scared to do so ... despite weighty evidence that breast-fed children are less likely to suffer from type 1 diabetes, allergies, infections, die of infant death syndrome or develop certain cancers, researchers are not willing to name formula as a danger in the titles or summaries of studies.

... The Royal Australasian College of Physicians advice says breastfeeding is superior to formula with studies showing among other things that breast-fed babies have lower rates of diabetes and obesity, higher IQs and as well as lower breast cancer rate in breast-feeding mothers - but have found the causes remain inconclusive.

We've known that breast feeding is superior to formula feeding for many many years now. The only thing that surprises me is that it continues to be researched. Surely the research funds can be allocated to more under-researched issues? The target needs to be around mass eduction campaigns around breastfeeding and ensuring compliance of hospitals with the WHO Breastfeeding Guidelines. Next, money needs to be put towards supporting women to breastfeed - eg paid maternity leave for all women for 6-12 months.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting.