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Infant formula

Infant Formula Study Just a Marketing Gimmick to Push Formula Over Breastfeeding

Friday, January 08, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: infant formula, breastfeeding, health news

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(NaturalNews) A recent study lauding the benefits of fortified infant formula has been greeted with skepticism by child development specialists, who suspect that the study is only the first part of an attempt to promote formula over breast milk.

"It is clear that the food industry fascination with nutraceuticals (strategically fortified food products) is now spreading into infant formula," said Barbara Moore of Shape Up America! "This is a disturbing new development. We have parents thinking that sticking their tiny infants in front of a Baby Einstein video will improve their child's mental development when the data suggest that parent-child interactions (and plenty of them) are the most critical factor for such development. Now parents will be encouraged to forego breastfeeding -- which is optimal for both mothers and babies -- in favor of a hyped up infant formula."

A recent study concluded that children who consumed infant formula fortified with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA had higher cognitive function than children who consumed unfortified formula. Breastmilk was not included in the study, and the formula used in the study was provided for free by a manufacturer.

Miriam Labbok of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill said she was doubtful about the study's findings.

"It might be reasonable from these industry-funded studies to consider that this would be a good additive to formula if you are forced to stop breastfeeding," she said. "However, 1) none of these studies compare to continued breastfeeding, 2) you could also get these [nutrients] from other sources if you stop breastfeeding, and 3) there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other components in human milk that cannot be replaced."

Pediatrician Lori Feldman-Winter of New Jersey noted that many mothers come to her believing that DHA-fortified milk is healthier for their infants than breastmilk.

"The marketing has actually dissuaded mothers from choosing exclusive breastfeeding, which is preferred from all the outcomes that we understand," she said.

All major health and pediatric associations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life, if not longer.

Sources for this story include: abcnews.go.com.

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