Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Game Plan to Protect Kids from Junk Food this Holiday Season

Picture courtesy #MomsNotLovinIt
By To-wen Tseng. Originally posted on MomsRising.org.

On a recent Sunday in my church, a nice lady tried to feed my 18-month-old a piece of chocolate. She wasn’t happy when I politely said "no." “Come on, why don’t you give him a treat? It’s just a leftover Halloween candy,” she said, turned to my child, “I’ll give you a treat when mommy is not around.”

The incident made me think. Surely our culture is strutted with candy and other junk foods. Every so often, I feel that I’m fighting against the whole world just to protect my child from junk foods. But I cannot be the food police around him 24/7. That “leftover Halloween candy” remind me that, for this upcoming holiday season, I need a game plan to protect my little one from junk food. This is what I’m going to do:

Plan my family’s meals carefully. I can proudly say that I have a very healthy eating habit—I eat dairy, lean meat, vegetables, and brown rice; almost never have candy, cookies, or chips. Thanks to my own mother, when I was growing up she always planned the family’s meals with adequate protein, fiber-filled food, and whole grains that help us feel fuller for longer. Her theory is that we all tend to make poor food decisions when we’re hungry. The result? My mother did successfully raise three daughters with good eating habit!

Model good eating habits for my child. We all have heard about this argument, “if you forbid sweets, your children will just get crazy for candy when they grow up.” But according to pediatricians, it only happens when parents forbid children from eating sweets but gorge on those sweets themselves. Actions speak louder than words. My mother always kept tempting foods out of the house when I was a little girl, and I never even had a desire to try the sweets. Also, I believe that parents should never use food, especially those sugary or fatty treats, as rewards.

Create a positive eating environment. I recognize that other children and adults play a role in what my child eats, so I try to surround him with people who will make it easier for him eat healthy. For example, the day care that my little one currently attends has a no candy, no soda policy that I am pleased with. Some people from my bible study group love sweets, and I always offer to bring home-made cookies and fruits so that our children will consume reasonable portions of sweets.

Play as a team. Holiday season is all about getting together with families but unfortunately, there are always family members who like to feed little ones junk foods. I came form a family with a healthy eating habits but my husband didn’t. His family LOVES fatty and sweet foods. When my in-laws try to feed our child empty calories, I need my husband to say no to them nicely but firmly. After all, my mother-in-law can be upset if I turn her down, but won’t be upset if her own son turns her down!

Boycott junk food marketing. Every year, food and beverage companies spend $2 billion promoting unhealthy foods virtually everywhere kids go. Every day, a preschooler sees 11 food ads on television. I am a TV reporter-turned-freelance writer, and though it seem to be ironic for me to say so, I don't have a TV at home because I feel it does more harm than good to our children. Junk food advertisements are a good example. So far I have signed three petitions to boycott junk food marketing: Tell Nickelodeon to stop junk food marketing, no more junk in schools, and we are not buying it.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When manufactures try to sell moms the “breast milk substitute” that’s not even close to breast milk

The U.S. government is suing baby food maker Gerber, owned by Nestle SA, over health claims in baby formula advertisements. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Gerber allegedly advertised that its Good Start Gentle formula would reduce the risk of a baby developing allergies despite having no proof for the claim.
"Oh, so this would reduce the risk of me developing allergies? Hrm..."
The FTC filed the lawsuit last week, saying that Gerber put stickers on the baby food which said the formula would “reduce the risk of developing allergies.”

The FTC also said that Gerber advertised that the Food and Drug Administration approved its health claims, although the agency had NOT done so.

Nestle SA said in a statement that it is "very disappointed" about FTC's decision to bring up a lawsuit.

This is not the first Nestle’s infant formula advertisement dispute. In 1974, Nestle was accused of getting third world mothers hooked on formula, which is less healthy and more expensive than breast milk. The allegations led to hearings in the U.S. Senate and the World Health Organization (WHO), resulting in a new set of marketing rules, known as today’s International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes.

Thirty years later, Nestle once again being accused for its infant formula advertisements. It is bigger than an exaggerated advertisement allegation. It is a reminder that inappropriate formula advertisement is still violating mothers’ and babies’ breastfeeding rights.

Today, many health care facilities and the largest formula makers continue to break the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitute in the U.S. and worldwide. It is reported that the largest formula makers in North America, including Mead Johnson of Enfamil, Abbott of Similac, and Nestle of Gerber Good Start are still distributing of commercial discharge bags with formula samples—a longstanding violation of the code.

It is recently reported to San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition that a hospital in the county is giving out formula samples to new mothers. A lactation consultant working with low-income, first-time mothers reported to the coalition that when working with a 15-years-old teenage mom, “she showed me a drawer full of those bottle-looking formulas! My client said herself that she thought it would be okay since the hospital gave it to her…I’m just saddened.”

It is a clear example how inappropriate formula marketing affect mothers’ breastfeeding decision,, discourage public health workers, as well as violating consumer rights, public health, women’s health, and corporate accountability.

Most health care professionals and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed for six months. All infant formula try to mimic breast milk, but experts agree that the highly processed breast milk substitutes cannot compete with the real thing. In spite of all these science evidences, when given information that has been influenced by formula companies, mothers can wrongly choose not to breastfeed.

Protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding is a human right. The violation of International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitute is a violation of human right.

I am glad that the FTC decided to sue Nestle SA. It is important for government officials and stakeholders to improve diets and raise nutrition levels through policies that more effectively address today’s major nutrition challenges. It is equally important for individuals to recognize the harm of inappropriate infant formula marketing and send messages to companies through different platforms.

The good thing is, breastfeeding advocates and mothers around the world never stopped fighting against formula ads in health care facilities. Earlier this year, Public Citizen led a day of action to urge the companies to end the unethical practice of promoting formula in health care facilities and thousands mothers participated. The work to keep infant formula marketing out of healthcare facilities continues.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Breastfeeding students deserve full support

An on-campus pumping incident was recently brought to the attention of San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition, where I serve as a PR volunteer. A nursing mother who is also a student at a local medical institute was recently reprimanded for expressing her breast milk at school. According to the mother’s report, she was discretely pumping her breast milk needed for her six-week-old infant. However, other students complained “discomfort” about this and she was told by her instructor to find a place to pump her milk off campus.

I got the mother's letter through SDCBC. This is so disappointing. And considering the mother is attending a medical institute, this is not only disappointing but also ironic.

Even though the current federal and California state laws for lactation accommodation in the workplace and nursing in public don’t mandate space for students to pump on campus, I believe nursing students DO deserve full support.

Breastfeeding is well documented to improve child health by decreasing the risk of respiratory infection, gastrointestinal infection, sudden infant death (SID), obesity, celiac disease, and improving developmental outcome for the child. Breastfeeding also improve maternal health by decreasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease for the mother. It benefits the mother’s employer because when the child is healthier, the mother needs to take off less time from work to care for her ill child.

Given the overwhelming evidence of better child and maternal health, exclusive breastfeeding is preferred and strongly recommended for all infants under six month old with continuation until at least one year of age by the United States Surgeon General, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and World Health Organization (WHO).

As such, mothers who seek to provide breast milk for their infants deserve EVERYONE’S FULL SUPPORT. The student who recently reported the incident to SDCBC is a mother who not only trying to breastfeed her new baby but also continuing her education at six weeks postpartum. She is a good mother and a good student.

Mothers who are both breastfeeding and either working or going to school at the same time should be applauded for trying to do the best for both their own future as well as their infants’ health. It is essential for a mother separated from her infant to express her breast milk frequently, every two to four hours, in order to maintain and adequate supply of breast milk for her child. Recognizing this imperative, CA State Law ACR 155 and US Affordable Care Act both require that employees to provide a private place but not a toilet stall for employees to pump their milk during their work day. Although at present these laws apply to employees but not students, the need is similar and both the public and provide schools nationwide are rapidly following suit for their students as well as employees.

For example, here in California, University of California at Berkeley has a breastfeeding support program which supports all students, faculty, staff, and their spouses who choose to continue breastfeeding after returning to work or school.

In Washington State, University of Washington has many on-site lactation stations for students and staff. Some of the lactation stations even have a multiple user pump available for students to use with their own personal kit.

In Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a dozen private, locked campus lactation rooms that accommodate breastfeeding students and staff.

These are some good examples for other schools to follow. SDCBC sent a letter to the medical institute and ask them to accommodate the student's nursing needs. Although it's none of my business, I wrote to the mother and told her how great I think she was. In spite of all the difficulties, I hope she can still make her breastfeeding goal. Thinking of her 6-week-old baby, I pulled out a photo of my little one at 6 weeks old. What a tiny baby! It would sadden me knowing such a little baby not being able to be breastfed.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

EVERYONE can help make breastfeeding easier


Thank BreastfeedLA, I had a chance to share my experience of fighting for workplace breastfeeding right at last week's 2014 LA breastfeeding summit:

My name is To-wen Tseng. I'm a journalist, a former TV reporter turned freelance writer, based between Los Angeles and Taipei. 
I'm also a wife to my husband who is a computer engineer, and a mother to our little one who is now 17 months old. 
I didn't really have a breastfeeding plan when I first got pregnant. I came from a culture that is relatively breastfeeding unfriendly. Currently in China, less then 30% of newborns are being breastfed. Being raised in Taiwan, I've never seen anybody breastfeed when I was growing up. However, after a prenatal interview with my then future pediatrician, I decided to breastfeed. 
 So I became a mother with an exclusively breastfed baby. In August of last year, I returned to work when my baby was 3 months old. I was writing for World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper serving North America.
On Oct 21st, the newspaper published an article titled "Breastfeeding Photos Embarrass Chinese-American to death," describing breastfeeding in public and/or sharing breastfeeding photos on social media as "disturbing" and "disgusting."
As a breastfeeding mother, I was shocked and offended. I talked to my editor, but he didn't think there was any problem with that article. The newspaper received complains from readers but had no response. 
 I was very, very disappointed. The truth is, the company wasn't friendly to breastfeeding mothers. We didn't have a nursing room, even though California law requires appropriate reasonable space for pumping.
I had to pump in the restroom. When I washed my pump parts in the kitchen, some of my colleagues would say, "don't wash your dirty panties in the office." I reported this to Human Resources, but they never dealt with it.
Later they published another article claiming that it is impractical for employers to provide lactation accommodations.
I spoke with my editor, a newsperson whom I once admired. We sat down for a 3-hour-long conversation and my editor insisted that there was nothing wrong with the article, that I was overreacting, that I had a personal issue.
 So I quit, ending a 10-year-long relationship with them. I sued the newspaper for sex discrimination.
The suit is settled and one thing I didn't agree was confidentiality. They wanted to pay for my silence which I refused. Other than that I'm happy about the agreement, it requires the company to change its policies regarding lactation accommodations and to share these policies with staff in multiple languages. Moreover, all supervisors will be trained on the policy and how to respond to requests for lactation accommodations.

Ten year is a long time to devote to a career. I loved my job but had to end it because of a hostile reaction to breastfeeding. I turned down the financial compensation in my lawsuit, so that I could speak out about this type of discrimination. My hope is to use my example to encourage other Chinese-American mothers. I'm glad that my Chinese blog is getting lots of responses.
Everyone can help make breastfeeding easier. This is what I did. What would you do?



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Breastfeeding cuts the risk of breast cancer

October is breast cancer awareness month. And I'm pleased that there is a new, large study done by my alma mater, Boston University, shows that breastfeeding cuts the risk of breast cancer!

Here is the deal. Estrogen receptor(ER)-negative breast cancer is a tumor subtype that is more common in black women and carries a higher risk of death. This new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggested that the reason why black women are at higher risk for this aggressive type of breast cancer may be because the breastfeeding rate among them is lower.

In other words, mothers who choose to not breastfeed may be at a higher risk of breast cancer than those who do.

The research effort is led by researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center and the University of North Carolina Linebarger Cancer Center.

The team looked at questionnaire data from several studies, including two cohort studies and two case-control studies of breast cancer in African-American women. They analyzed data from nearly 3,700 black breast cancer patients. About one-third of them had ER-negative breast cancer.

Researchers founded that women with children were one-third more likely to develop these type of breast tumors compared to those who never had children. However, whether or not a mother breastfed her infants seem to influence her risk for the tumor even more.

For example, the results indicated that women who had four or more children but had never breastfed were 68 percent more likely to develop an ER-negative breast cancer, compared to women who had only one child but did breastfeed.

“Promotion of lactation may be an effective tool for reducing occurrence of the subtypes that contribute disproportionately to breast cancer mortality,” Julie Palmer, a study co-leader and professor of epidemiology at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center wrote.

The authors concluded that this study may explain, in part, why African-American women, who typically have more children but a lower prevalence of lactation than U.S. white women, are disproportionately affected by ER-breast cancer.

The study also found that black women who breastfeed have a lower risk of being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, in which tumor cells test negative for three key hormone receptors thus is hard to treat. The authors suggest that triple-negative breast cancer in African-American women who have given birth could be lowered by almost two-thirds if they breastfed at a similar rate as non-Hispanic white women.

“These findings showing that breastfeeding can reduce the risk for African American women of getting aggressive breast cancers are exciting because this is something that can be acted upon, where we can actually prevent some cases of these often-deadly cancers,” said Dr. Christine B. Ambrosone, a study co-leader and chair of the department of cancer prevention and control at Rosewell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, in a statement. “We already know that breastfeeding has so many benefits to babies and their mothers. This is one more reason to encourage and support breastfeeding.”

The new study provides the most conclusive evidence to date, but is not the first and/or only study that has shown a connection between the number of times a woman has given birth and increased risk of ER-negative tumors, and that breastfeeding reduced risk of these aggressive cancers.

Breastfeeding has long been recognized as one of the factors that reduce the risk of breast cancer. In her recent article published in Huffington Post, Dr. Marisa Weiss, the president and founder of breastcancer.org, wrote, “You can take steps to reduce your risk of the disease by maintaining a healthy weight…and breastfeeding your baby.”

With my LO in North Carolina.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ouch! Nipple Pain, Damage & Infections

By To-wen Tseng. Originally posted on San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's Blog. 

Nipple pain, damage, and infections can happen to any breastfeeding mother. According to a 2008 research published on Pediatrics, pain is one of the major reasons why women stop breastfeeding. At the most recent San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition general meeting, Vicki Wolfrum, RN, CNM, IBCLC, discussed these breastfeeding challenges with her colleagues.

Breastfeeding is not supposed to be painful. Wolfrum said many mothers came to her with nipple pain and said, “I waited for a while before seeking help because they told me it’s supposed to be painful in the first few days.” However, Wolfrum said, “That is not true!”

She said, “If breastfeeding is extremely painful, something is not right.”

Sensitivity during the first week is normal. For example, during the first one to three days after birth, mother’s nipples are extra sensitive because of estrogen, a hormone. However, anything more than the normal sensitivity is not right and needs to be investigated.

Wolfrum recognized three common causes of nipple pain: mechanical problems such as poor latch, poor positioning, and disorganized suck; nipple problems such as flat, inverted, or short nipples; diseases such a bacterial infection, inflammatory breasts, and eczema.

Ankyloglossia can also present as nipple pain.

Poor positioning is much more common then imagined. Not leaning back, mother slumped forward, baby below the breasts, baby handing on nipple, and baby’s head twisted can all be considered poor positioning.

“The best first latch is skin to skin touch. The first thing is to get the mother comfortable, and then just put baby on the chest and he will find his way to the breasts. It works a lot of the time,” said Wolfrum, “Bring baby to the breasts, not breasts to the baby.”

Poor or shallow latch is also common. While latching well, the baby’s mouth should be widely open and the lops should be flared.

Ankyloglossia is another common cause of mild to severe nipple trauma and pain. “If there is ‘pinch’ with every suck, pain from first latch, severe pain when no trauma evident, persistent pain regardless of great latch, post feed crease and nipples of great latch or linear scabs on nipples,” Wolfrum explained, “then it’s probably ankyloglossia.”

She shared a classic story with her fellow IBCLCs, “a mother with her third baby is feeling extreme pain in nipples. Her pediatrician told her to stop breastfeeding for three days to let her nipples healed. She did, and the nipples were healed,but she still had pain. Then a lactation consultant told her that she had thrush because the baby’s tongue was white. she asked her OB for Diflucan but nipples were continually painful.”

When Wolfrum saw the mother, the baby was 4 weeks old and the mother was ready to quit breastfeeding. She found that the baby had posterior tongue tie and labial tie.

The mother had her baby laser frenotomy of both tongue and lip. There was an immediate relief. In one week the baby was sucking peacefully with loud swallows.

However, Wolfrum reminded that not all ties cause nipple pain and the decision for frenotomy should be carefully discussed with doctors.

The coalition’s Dr. James Murphy (MD, FAAP, FABM, IBCLC) also pointed out that thrush is a mouth infection, but it is perfectly normal for a baby’s tongue to be white. White tongue doesn’t necessary mean thrush.

Some nipple pain can be relieved by natural remedies, while others require medication. Common treatment for nipple healing and comfort includes lanolin, lanolin mixed with breast milk, hydrogel gel pads, APNO (all-purpose nipple ointment), miconazole cream, and epsom salt bath.

Wolfrum recommended using lanolin and breast milk mix and hydrogel gel pads together, “Mothers often ‘ahhhhhh’ with use of hydrogels!”

Cute, but incorrect breastfeeding position--mom not leaning back, baby's mouth not widely open.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Breastfeeding reduces the Risk of Childhood Acute Leukemia

By To-wen Tsneg. Originally posted on San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's Blog.

Breastfeeding is well known to have many protective effects against infection in infants. Some have called breastfeeding a magic bullet for pediatric maladies; some studies have suggested that breastfeeding can protect children from developing Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, and even leukemia.

Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, is the most common childhood malignancy in western countries. It accounts for one third of all cancers occurring in children under the age of 15, and strikes about 3,500 young people under the age of 20 in the United States each year. About three quarters of leukemia diagnoses are Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The other form of leukemia in children is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML).

The causes of leukemia are not well understood. The biggest risk factors include having Down Syndrome, having a sibling with leukemia, and having a history of radiation treatment for another cancer. It has been hypothesized that leukemia in some people may be the result of exposure to a specific bacterial or viral source. In theory, passive immunity given by breast milk could have a preventive effect. For this reason, a possible association between breastfeeding and a lower risk of diagnosis of childhood leukemia continues to be explored.

One of the earliest study on breastfeeding and risk of childhood acute leukemia was a 1999 study done by the Department of Pediatrics at University of South California School of Medicine. In the study researchers tested the hypothesis that breastfeeding decreases the risk of childhood acute leukemia, and found that breastfeeding was associated with a reduced risk of the disease.

In its 2012 Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said, “There is a reduction in leukemia that is correlated with the duration of breastfeeding.” Their conclusion was based on several earlier studies showing that infants who were breastfed six months or longer had 20 percent reduction in the risk of ALL, and those who were breastfed less than six months had a 12 percent reduction in risk.

The results of a recent study presented at the International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) lend further support to the AAP premise that infant feeding plays a role in the development of childhood leukemia.

How infant nutrition influences leukemia risk is unclear, but earlier studies suggest a link between infant feeding practices, including breastfeeding, formula-feeding, and introduction of solid foods, and immune system development and levels of insulin-like growth factor.

In an effort further examine “the association between infant feeding practices and age at introduction of solids on risk of ALL,” a team of researchers at the University of Texas Austin recruited 426 children from the Texas Children’s Cancer Center and the National Children’s Study. Participants included 142 children between ages 1 to 7 years who had been diagnosed with ALL and were receiving treatment and 284 healthy children of the same age group. Mothers of the children completed a questionnaire that provided information about their child’s breastfeeding and formula-feeding history, as well as their age at the introduction of solid foods.

It turned out that children who had been diagnosed with ALL had a longer duration of formula-feeding. Further analysis showed that each month of formula-feeding raised the child’s risk of ALL by 16 percent.

Jeremy Schraw, a member of the research team, explained that “if a baby is fed only formula, he or she will not be getting any immune factors from the mother, which could be leading to this greater risk.”

My little one and his little friends, Faith and Joy. 
The Twin sister's father was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia three years ago, 
now looking for a marrow donor. 
You can save a life by becoming a registered bone marrow donor. 
Please contact bethematch.org for details.   

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Breastfeeding mother fights back

It was exactly today of last year when I returned to my work after a three-month-long maternity leave.

I was a staff writer at World Journal, the self-described "largest Chinese-language newspaper in North America." I was still nursing when returned to work; however, the newspaper denied my request for lactation accommodations at work. There was no nursing room in the company facility so I had to pump in the restroom.

Making the matter worse, the newspaper published anti-breastfeeding stories. During the period I was attempting to pump at work, World Journal published a story “Hot Mamas Show Off Their R-rated Breastfeeding Photos, Embarrassing Chinese-Americans to Death,” which quoted several anonymous resource calling breastfeeding photos “R-rated,” “disturb[ing],” and “disgusting.”

In the newsroom some colleagues made harassing, disparaging comments about nursing moms. I was told by a colleague "don't wash your dirty panties here" when I was washing the pumping accessories in the kitchen.

These incidents eventually resulted in my separation from that company.

I had a decade long relationship with that company and was shocked by how they treated me as a breastfeeding mother. I so appreciate this settlement, other mothers won’t have to go through what I experienced.

In addition to a monetary settlement, the agreement includes injunctive relief which requires the company to change its policies regarding lactation accommodations and to share these policies with staff in multiple languages. Moreover, all supervisors will be trained on the policy and how to respond to requests for lactation accommodations.  In this way, the settlement has a broader impact, potentially benefitting numerous working mothers at World Journal.

The newspaper originally offered a bigger financial reward for confidentially which I refused. My hope is to use my example to encourage other Chinese-American mothers to fight for their nursing right since we are from a culture that relatively breastfeeding unfriendly. Currently in China, less than 30% babies are breastfed. I was actually invited to KAZN, the Chinese-language radio station serving Los Angels to talk about my breastfeeding journey:


The money I received will go to La Leche League, BreastfeedLA, San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition, Taiwan Breastfeeding Association, and other organizations that support me during the process as a token of my appreciation.

And, of course, the people I appreciate the most are these two!


Continue to read: LAS-ELS press release
                             Law Room: Express Harassment 





Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Breast milk is love. Share love!

Breast milk is liquid gold. Some mothers are blessed with more breast milk—more than what her baby needs—and are able to share the gift with others through milk banking or selling.

There is, however, a gap between evidence-based breastfeeding guidelines and practice, thus compromising the ability of the mother-baby dyad to meet established breastfeeding recommendations. Physicians have been lagging behind in their knowledge and use of banked donor human milk. They also may not be aware that their own patients may be obtaining milk—donated or sold—off the internet.

In light of the World Breastfeeding Week 2014, San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition provided a mini-seminar, discussing the benefits and the risks of the various forms of donor human milk.

At the seminar that attracted dozens of health care providers, the coalition’s Dr. Nancy Wight (MD, IBCLC, FABM, FAAP) pointed out that because of the dissemination of research, quality improvement projects, and the best practice recommendations, the use of donor human milk in the NICU across the country has increased dramatically in the past decade.

“Historically,” Dr. Wight explained, “In the 1950s, people used mom’s milk and fresh donor milk for almost all infants.” Started 1970s, people started to use premature infant formula for preterm babies. Baby grow very fast with premature infant formula because this kind of formula is very high in protein. “But faster is not better!” noted Dr. Wight.

What helps the babies grow better in the NICU is, Dr. Wight said, human milk. Mother’s milk is the best choice, and donor human milk is the second best choice. “Human milk is food for nutritional management and a therapeutic agent that protects from, and reduces incidence and severity of various morbidities,” said Dr. Wight, “It a programming agent for genetic and biologic pathways. It’s a mechanism to involve mother and families in NICU care.”

Benefits of human milk for preemies includes host defense and immunologic programming, gastrointestinal development, special nutrition, improved neurodevelopment outcome as well as a physically and psychologically healthier mother. There are also economic and environmental benefits.

The breasts supplies what the baby lacks . Lactose supplies nutrients that meet baby’s energy requirements; lipase provides digestive enzymes to support the immature pancreatic function; sIgA provides protective factors to support immature gastrointestinal barrier function; epidermal growth factor supplies trophic factors for mucosal differentiation; and oligosaccharides provide prebiotics that support normal anti-inflammatory bacteria.

According to a California neonatologist survey done by Dr. Wight in 2001, 97% of California neonatologists always or usually recommend human milk for their NICU patients. However, the survey also found that there was little familiarity with the use of pasteurized donor human milk. It is likely that there is even less familiarity and usage of PDHM in many areas of the United States.

Some key areas of neonatologist’s concern identified were accessibility and logistics of obtaining milk, safety and infection control issues, social acceptability and legal issues, and nutritional adequacy and efficacy questions. A subsequent study done by Parker et al. 10 years later (2013) revealed a significant increase in knowledge about, and use of, pasteurized donor human milk in NICUs across the US.

Dr. Wight explained human milk processing and handling, saying that currently there are no federal regulations governing milk banks. Guidelines were established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBNA), written in cooperation with Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). in some states a Tissue Bank License is required.

According to HMBANA donor milk processing guidelines, all the mothers are carefully screened. That is to say, it is safer and important for mothers to donate and obtain milk through a licensed milk bank.

Meanwhile, informal sharing of human milk or buying human milk through the Internet is more risky. According to a retrospective review of serologic testing of potential human milk donors, among 1,091 potential donors, 3.3% came back with positive serology screening results including syphilis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HTLV, HIV.

Dr. Wight encouraged all to help increase milk donation to human milk banks so that all preterm and ill infants enjoy the benefits of human milk.

Precious gift from Mother Nature: Sunshine, water, air, and...breast milk!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Not just one mother's battle

This is an original post for MomsRising.org by To-wen Tseng.

Today's is the first day of 2014 World Breastfeeding Week. Just earlier this year, Iowa Public Radio broadcasted a remarkable story about Linda Eaton. Eaton was an Iowa City Firefighter. Thirty-five years ago, she continued to breastfeed her child at work against orders from her supervisor, and a breastfeeding discussion was launched locally and gained national attention.

Today, breastfeeding in America is treated a little differently, but it is also very different than other cultures. The program told Eaton’s story, and also discussed what businesses are required to provide for nursing employees, the challenges of refugee and immigrant women who breastfeed, and what barriers might prevent American mother from breastfeeding.

I burst into tears when listening to the story. It represents so much of my personal experience as an immigrant mother struggling to breastfeed against my company’s policy.

At the time I gave birth to my baby, who is now one year old, I was working as a staff writer at a Chinese-language newspaper in Los Angeles. I separated from that company when my little one was six months old after repeated incidents of harassment because of breastfeeding.

I had a decade-long relationship with that company. Before my maternity leave I looked into the employee handbook but was unable to locate any information about breastfeeding.

I returned to work when my son turned three months old and needed an area to pump my breast milk. Because the company did not provide nursing employees with a place to pump, I had to pump in the bathroom or at my desk, covered by a jacket. When I talked to my supervisor and our HR about the lactation accommodation rights, they responded me with that they are not aware of the law. I was shocked.

In addition to that, my coworkers harassed me about breastfeeding. When I was attempting to clean my pump supplies in the office kitchen, one coworker made a derisive comment that I was washing panties in the office. A second coworker spread breastfeeding photos she found online and joke about them.

I was not alone. Every so often I heard my fellow Chinese-American mothers talked about quitting breastfeeding because their employer or their family (often the mother-in-law) don’t support them.

It seems to be hard for non-English-speaking mothers to get breastfeeding support. I tried to invite some medical or lactation professional to my previous company and educate my previous colleagues about the benefits of breastfeeding, but I couldn’t find even one Chinese-speaking lactation professional or medical professional who was able to talk about breastfeeding. And that was in Los Angeles, one of the American cities with the biggest Chinese population.

Still, I am grateful that I now live here in the United States of America, where breastfeeding mothers are better protected opposing to many other countries and regions around the world. Three months after resigning from my job, I received Unemployment Insurance Benefits from California Employment Development Department, which considered that I quit for a compulsive reason and any mother would make the same decision as I did. I doubt that I could receive the same understanding back in my home country.

Now I am working with Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center to ask my previous employer to include a clear stated lactation policy in the company manual, and to have training sessions in English and Chinese for all supervisors and employees regarding the policies, so that other women don't have to experience what I have experienced.

No mother should have to choose between doing what is best for her baby and her job. Eaton fought for her rights of breastfeeding thirty-five years ago, and today, breastfeeding in America is treated differently. As immigrant mothers we are now fighting for our rights to breastfeed, and hopefully, thirty-five years from now, breastfeeding in ethnic communities will be treated differently.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Caffeine use while breastfeeding

Recently a mother told me she chose formula feeding over breastfeeding because she “just can’t help having coffee, tea, and chocolate.”

That is one of those myths that many mothers believe are true—unless the mother eat healthy, her breast milk is no better than infant formula, or if the mother drink coffee or tea, her milk does more harm to the babies than formula.

The truth is, however, it is safe to have caffeine while breastfeeding as long as the mother doesn’t over do it. When caffeine enters the mother’s bloodstream, a small amount of it, usually less than 1 percent, ends up in her breast milk. The caffeine amount in her milk peaks a couple of hours after she consume it.

Since a newborn’s body can’t easily break down and get rid of the caffeine, it may accumulate in his system. At about three months, the baby will begin to process caffeine more efficiently, and over time it will become easier and easier for hime to excrete it.

Experts say that a moderate amount of caffeine, which means no more than 300 milligrams per day, or the amount in about 16 ounces of brewed coffee, is fine for nursing moms and should cause no changes in most babies’ behavior. Only when mother drinking more than two or three cups of coffee a day could cause the baby to become irritable, jittery, or agitated.

Many foods contain caffeine, coffee is one, obviously. The amount of caffeine in a serving of coffee varies widely, depending on the type of bean, how it’s roasted, how it’s brewed, and, of course, on the size of the coffee cup. For example, although espresso contains more caffeine per ounce, it’s served in a tint cup, so a full cup of brewed coffee will deliver more caffeine.

To manage the caffeine intake, a mother need to be aware of other sources, like tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and coffee ice cream. Caffeine also shows up in herbal products and over-the-counter drugs, including some headache, cold, and allergy remedies. So read the label carefully.

Below is a chart of amount of caffeine in common beverages, courtesybabycenter.com.

CoffeeAmountCaffeine
coffee, generic brewed8 oz95-200 mg
coffee, Starbucks brewed16 oz (grande)330 mg
coffee, Dunkin' Donuts brewed16 oz211 mg
caffé latte, misto, or cappuccino, Starbucks16 oz (grande)150 mg
caffé latte, misto, or cappuccino, Starbucks12 oz (tall)75 mg
espresso, Starbucks1 oz (1 shot )75 mg
espresso, generic1 oz (1 shot)64 mg
coffee, generic instant1 tsp granules31 mg
coffee, generic decaffeinated8 oz2 mg


TeaAmountCaffeine
black tea, brewed8 oz47 mg
green tea, brewed8 oz25 mg
black tea, decaffeinated8 oz2 mg
Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea latte16 oz (grande)95 mg
instant tea, unsweetened1 tsp powder26 mg
Snapple16 oz42 mg
Lipton Brisk iced tea12 oz5 mg


Soft drinksAmountCaffeine
Coke12 oz35 mg
Diet Coke12 oz47 mg
Pepsi12 oz38 mg
Diet Pepsi12 oz36 mg
Jolt Cola12 oz72 mg
Mountain Dew12 oz54 mg
7-Up12 oz0 mg
Sierra Mist12 oz0 mg
Sprite12 oz0 mg


Energy drinksAmountCaffeine
Red Bull8.3 oz77 mg
SoBe Essential Energy, berry or orange8 oz48 mg
5-Hour Energy2 oz138 mg


DessertsAmountCaffeine
dark chocolate (70-85% cacao solids)1 oz23 mg
milk chocolate1.55-oz9 mg
coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt8 oz2 mg
hot cocoa8 oz8-12 mg
chocolate chips, semisweet4 oz53 mg
chocolate milk8 oz5-8 mg

Every baby is different, though. Some babies seem to be bothered when the mother have even a small amount of caffeine. My little one was one of those babies, so I cut caffeine out of my diet for two years. It’s not I love coffee less, but I love my baby more.

My last coffee. Photo taken 2 weeks before I found being pregnant.
Related to this article: 17 Effects of Caffeine on the Body 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When breastfeeding is a stress

I often hear my follow new mothers say that breastfeeding is a stress.

Breastfeeding can be hard, I know. I have a baby who was exclusively breastfed until the age of six months, and breastfeeding did stress me out at one point.

I come from a culture that is relatively breastfeeding unfriendly. My parents were from China, where less than 30% of babies are breastfed. Being born and raised in Taiwan, I have never seen anyone or heard of anyone breastfeeding while growing up. After giving birth I hired a postpartum caregiver, a very nice Chinese lady, so nice that she constantly reminded me that a new mother should rest well and nursing every three hours is bad for my health. Debating with my parents, my in-laws, and my caregiver over breastfeeding was stressful.

And I did have some health concerns about breastfeeding. I have a strong family history of breast cancer, and before I was pregnant, my doctor found two fibromas in my left breast during a regular check-up. Even though I was assured that fibromas would not interfere with breastfeeding, I could not help but worry about it. That worry was stressful.

Then I returned to a very breastfeeding unfriendly working environment when my baby turned six months old. I was forced to pump my breast milk in a bathroom stall. When I attempted to wash pump accessories in the office kitchen, my colleagues made nasty comments that I was washing “dirty panties” in the office. The situation was stressful.

My milk started to dry up. I started to feel that I may not have enough milk to feed my baby. I started to consider breast milk substitutes. I started to feel that my lactation consultant was annoying for constantly telling me how breast milk is superior to infant formula.

Finally, that day came. My application for nursing accommodation at work was rejected. When I came home, an infant formula coupon was waiting in my mail box. Exhausted and disappointed, I told myself, “this was it.”

And then I drove to a grocery store with that coupon. I was going to buy the first container of infant formula. So here I was, standing at the baby food aisle, holding a can of formula in my hand.

All in a sudden a question came to me, “is this really the answer to my stress?”

Would I stop worrying about my fibromas? Probably not. All the research results that I could find show that fibromas have nothing to do with breastfeeding. If I were going to worry about those lumps in my breasts I would just continue to worry, regardless of whether I was breastfeeding or not.

Would I feel better at work? Certainly not. Apparently my employer disrespected the labor law enough to resist accommodation to an employee’s breastfeeding needs. I was persuaded that the company would not protect my employee rights one way or another, even if I were not breastfeeding.

Would I stop being annoyed when hearing breastfeeding advocates lecturing about the benefits of breastfeeding? Most definitely not. I would be even more annoyed, because I knew that they are right. I knew that in spite of the pressure from my family, my employer, and my health condition, the sole reason for me to give up breastfeeding was my personal choice.

I realized that it was not breastfeeding that was the cause of my stress.

So I put that infant formula back on the shelf. I walked out of the store. I went home and submitted a letter of resignation to my supervisor. Now my baby is 14-months old and still being breastfed.

I am saying this from the bottom of my heart: If you are a new mother, and you feel that breastfeeding is really stressful, please do ask yourself if giving up breastfeeding is the real solution. The answer might surprise you.

"Mommy I don't want formula!"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pacifiers: Boon or Boondoggle?

Pacifiers are used world-wide and often believed by health professionals to be harmless, and some lay people even consider them necessary and beneficial for the infant’s development. I used pacifier myself--I gave my little one a pacifier when he was one month old simply because I received a cute, free NUK pacifier in my mailbox; I stopped giving him that pacifier when he turned three month old simply because he seemed to lose interest in it. In shorts, as a new mom, I did no research on the pros and cons of pacifier (though I should have!) I just used it, and then quit it. So is a pacifier really a boon? Or a boondoggle?

I did not find out until the most recent San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition meeting, where Nancy E. Wight (MD, IBCLC, FABM, FAAP), secretary of the coalition, discussed this topic. She said that although pacifier use has its benefits, there is enough evidence to show that pacifiers CAN effect breastfeeding, when used early in the hospital, and when maternal motivation to breastfeed is not strong.

Non-nutritive sucking on pacifiers may be beneficial. Sucking calms and decreases the pain response. Pacifier use is associated with a decrease in the incidence if SIDS. For premies, non-nutritive sucking may facilitate the development and strengthening of muscles used in sucking, and lead to better weight gain and shorter length of stay.

Still, there are several risks of pacifier use. During the first two days after giving birth, the mother's breasts need stimulation to begin producing milk and the baby’s time spent on the breast should not be limited. However, “the time sent sucking on a pacifier is time not spent suckling at the breast,” said Dr. Wight, “Pacifiers reduce time spent suckling at the breast, thus delay and decrease the milk production, and result in early termination of breastfeeding.” She pointed out that most observational studies show an association of early pacifier use and shorter duration of breastfeeding.

Pacifiers interfere with demand feeding. Some mothers use pacifiers to delay feeding, as a consequence, “less feeding equals to decreased milk supply,” said Dr. Wight, “decreased milk supply leads to supplementation and decreased breastfeeding.” Formula remains in the stomach twice as long as human milk, leading to less breastfeeding.

Pacifiers can alter oral dynamics and cause dental malocclusion. Pediatric Dentists recommend discontinuing pacifier use by two years of age. Pacifiers increase incidence of acute and chronic otitis media, may carry infection, possibly increase the incidence of thrush.

Pacifier also come with possible safety hazards, including chocking on separated pieces of pacifier materials, use of potentially harmful materials in manufacture, and entanglement in pacifier attachments.

Most studies suggest not using a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding by Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative includes “give no teats or pacifiers, also called dummies or soothers, to breastfeeding infants” as its ninth step.

American Academy of Pediatrics suggests avoiding routine pacifier use in the postpartum period, stating “pacifier use should be offered, while placing the infant back-to-sleep position, no earlier than three to four weeks of age, and after breastfeeding has been well established.”

She reminded her fellow IBCLCs that pacifier use may indicate a breastfeeding problem, not cause the problem. “Pacifier use may indicate a breastfeeding problem that requires intervention,” she said, “or a mother’s desire to stop breastfeeding.”

To sum up, pacifiers can be beneficial, but only when they are used properly. Good lesson. Thank you Nancy!

The only photo I can found of my little one sucking a pacifier.

 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Better late than never! Michigan fights discrimination against breastfeeding mothers

By To-wen Tseng. Originally posted on San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's Blog.

Michigan had decided that our most precious and sweetest citizens should not be eating in a bathroom. Last Tuesday, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed “Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act” into law. Now Michigan mothers who nurse their children in public will be protected from discrimination and prosecution under the bipartisan legislation.

The “Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act,” sponsored by the state Sen.Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), gives women the right to nurse a child in any place that is open to the general public, including stores, restaurants and municipal buses.

“We hope that with Gov. Snyder’s signature on this bill, we will start a culture change so that our mothers feel comfortable nursing their babies where they’re allowed to be.” Warren said that with this bill, mothers will be breastfeeding longer, “and the health benefits to both baby and mother will be maximized. ”

Under the new anti-discrimination law, owners and operators cannot deny goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to a woman simply because she is breastfeeding, nor post signs prohibiting public nursing.

A woman who is subject to discrimination because of breastfeeding can file a civil suit seeking injunctive relief, actual damages, or presumed damages of up to $200. A court could also award the mother full reimbursement for any legal costs.

Companion legislation sponsored by Rep. Amada Price (P-Park Lark), and Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto), will ensure that nursing mothers cannot be charged under state laws prohibiting indecent exposure or disorderly conduct.

Supporters say the new laws will guarantee the right of women to breastfeed in places of public accommodation and clear up any confusion for store owners, employees, and security guards.

Before the law, a Target Store in Harper Woods, MI, reportedly called the police on a breastfeeding mother in 2009. A SMART bus driver ordered an Eastpointe mother to cover up or exit in 2011. Security guards reportedly boarded the bus at the next stop and questioned her.

In this country, 45 states already have some form of law allowing women to breastfeed in public or private locations. Twenty-nine (29) states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. Michigan did not have such a law until last week, and the state ranks in the bottom third of states for breastfeeding rates.

Health experts believe that normalizing breastfeeding will benefit babies in Michigan. The state’s chief medical executive for the Department of Community Health, Mr. Matthew Davis, said that breastfeeding provides optimal nourishment for children, shields them from infection and helps fight obesity. “A woman afraid of persecution or prosecution may decide not to breastfeed, thereby losing all the potential benefits of breastfeeding,” said Dr. Davis.

Dr. Paula Schreck of Michigan’s St. John Providence Health System said breastfeeding can also have a positive impact on the health of mothers by reducing the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression. “Breastfeeding improves the health of a society, of a city, of a country, of a state,” she said.

“There’s nothing more natural than giving birth and there’s nothing more natural than feeding your child using your body,” said Shannon Polk, executive director of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network, at a press conference in Lansing, MI.

“You wouldn’t eat your lunch in a bathroom. Why should our most precious and sweetest citizens have to eat in a bathroom?”

Here in California, mother’s right to breastfeed in public has long been protected. California is one of the first states that not only has a law that protects a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, but also an enforcement provision to uphold that law.

At Reading Terminal Market in Philly, everybody is eating. So am I :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Green reasons to breastfeed

By To-wen Tseng. Originally posted on San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's Blog.

In addition to the well recognized health effects of breastfeeding, breastfeeding also confers global environmental benefits. Not only is breast milk free, nutritious, and easily portable, it’s also a waste-free renewable resource. Breastfeeding her baby is one of the smartest and greenest decision that a modern mother can make. Here are five green reasons to give bottles the boot.

Breastfeeding is a renewable resource. Human milk is a natural, renewable food that acts as a complete source of babies’ nutrition for about the first six month of life.

Breastfeeding reduces waste. There are no packages involved, as opposed to infant formulas and other substitutes for human milk that require packaging that ultimately may be deposited in landfills. Formulas and bottles present a costly and excessive packaging problem. Boxes, paper and plastics that take energy both to manufacture and recycle are used to package bottles, bottle accessories, and formula. According to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International (LLLI), for every one million formula-fed babies, 150 million containers of formula are consumed; while some of those containers could be recycled, many end up in landfills. Even recycling the packages consumes energy. Meanwhile, a mother’s milk is waste-free, unless you count a nursing bra as fancy breast milk packaging.

Breastfeeding saves energy. Breast milk is ready to go straight from the tap, while infant formulas must be transported from their place of manufacture to retail locations, such as grocery stores, so that they can be purchased by families. Breastfeeding stops those late-night trips to the grocery store for formula. It requires nothing more than mothers to consume a small amount of additional calories, and breast milk comes at the perfect temperature for the baby, no heating required. Formulas, however, need containers, need paper, need fuel to prepare, and gasoline used to deliver. Breastfeeding may even reduce drives to the pediatrician’s office, since breastfed babies are generally more healthy. Breast milk has its own convenient storage facility. While many parents make a few bottles of formula at once and store them in the fridge, breast milk can last up to 4 hours without ice. Breastfeeding reduces the carbon footprint by saving precious global resources and energy.

Breastfeeding is plastic-free. Many formula packages on the market contain various forms of plastic. Plastic, usually made with oil, is one of the world’s worst environment problems. There are no hard-and-fast numbers about just how much petroleum is used to make plastic, but most studies estimate that it accounts for about 8 percent of the world’s yearly oil consumption. Besides draining fuel resources, plastic produces harmful and toxic wastes such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and more, all of which are take a toll on the air, water, and soil, not to mention human health. Plastic is not part of a closed-loop recycling plan. Instead it is down-cycled into other products, a process that may not be energy or cost-efficient.

Breastfeeding reduces exposures to toxic chemicals. It is not until recent years that many brands of baby bottles have been shown to leach dangerous chemicals such as bisphenol-A(BPA) and phthalates both into babies’ milk and into the air, soil and water. On the other hand, research suggests that parent should not worry about toxins in breast milk. While breast milk can contain low levels of toxins, formula presents much larger ecological problems. Breastfeeding is the most economical, nontoxic choice for babies.

Breastfeeding is the best feeding. It’s the best for the babies, for the families, and the planet, too!

Meet Piglet, my little environmental protection advocate.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Infant formula: what's in that?

A mother facebook messaged me and asked how is baby formula made. It's a tough question to answer with an FB message. I decided to write this blog post about infant formula.

The human species has been breastfeeding for nearly half a million years. It’s only in the last 60 years that we have begun to give babies the highly processed convenience food called “formula.” US formula manufactures spend around 8 million dollars per year marketing infant formula, while La Leche League International (LLLI), the best-known breastfeeding advocacy group, has a 3.5 million annual budget.

No wonder modern mothers are encouraged to embrace the bottle-feeding culture. But what’s really in baby formula?

In US commercial infant formulas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Three major types are available.

  1. Cow's milk formulas. Most infant formula is made with cow's milk that's been altered to resemble breast milk. This gives the formula a better balance of nutrients, and makes the formula easier to digest. Most babies can tolerate cow's milk formula. Some babies, however, such as those allergic to the proteins in cow's milk, need other types of infant formula.
  2. Soy-based formulas. Soy-based formulas can be useful for parents who want to exclude animal proteins from their child's diet. Soy-based infant formulas might also be an option for babies who are intolerant or allergic to cow's milk formula or to lactose, a carbohydrate naturally found in cow's milk. However, babies who are allergic to cow's milk may also be allergic to soy milk.
  3. Protein hydrolysate formulas. These types of formulas contain protein that's been broken down (hydrolyzed) partially or extensively into smaller components than are in cow's milk and soy-based formulas. Protein hydrolysate formulas are meant for babies who don't tolerate cow's milk or soy-based formulas. Extensively hydrolyzed formulas are an option for babies who have a protein allergy.
In addition, specialized formulas are available for premature infants and babies who have specific medical conditions.

All infant formula try to mimic breast milk, but experts agree that the highly processed breast milk substitutes cannot compete with the real thing.

Baby formula was never intended to be consumed on the widespread basis that it is today. It was conceived in the late 1800s as a means of providing necessary sustenance for foundlings and orphans who would otherwise have starved. In this narrow context, where no other food was available, formula could be a lifesaver.

However, as time went on and the subject of human nutrition in general became more “scientific,” manufactured breast milk substitutes were promoted to the general public as a technological improvement to breast milk.

Breast milk substitues come with risks. Research shows that the use of formula often sabotage and shorten the nursing relationship, not to mention the various health consequences, including five times the risk of gastroenteritis, twice the risk of developing diabetes, and up to eight times the risk of developing lymphatic cancer.

Mary Smale, a lactation consultant from UK’s National Childbirth Trust told Ecologist Magazine, “If anybody were to ask ‘which formula should I use?’ or ‘which is nearest to mother’s milk?’ The answer would be ‘nobody knows.’ Because there is not one single objective source of that kind of information provided by anybody.”

“Only the manufacturers know what’s in their stuff, and they aren’t telling. They may advertise special ‘healthy’ ingredients like oligosaccharides, long-chain fatty acids, or, a while ago, beta-carotene, but they never actually tell you what the basic product is made form or where the ingredients come from,” said Smale.

That said, the known constituents of breast milk were, and are, used as a general reference for scientists devising infant formulas. But, to this day, there is no actual “formula” for formula. In fact, the process of producing infant formulas has, since its earliest days, been a trial and error process.

Modern parents might consider giving their babies formula for many reasons. But keep in mind that formula does come with consequences, and every mother needs to be aware of those so she can make truly informed decision on whether to use it or not.

A little history about infant formula: In 1974, Nestle was accused of getting third world mothers hooked on formula, which is less healthy and more expensive than breast milk. The allegations led to hearings in the Senate and the World Health Organization(WHO), resulting in a new set of marketing rules. Below is the cover of a booklet that blew the lid off the baby formula industry, publish by British human rights organization War on Want.