Breastfeeding Medicine

Physicians blogging about breastfeeding

The well-being of mothers and children is not a tradeable commodity

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Breastfeeding is the foundation of public health and economic development. All major medical organizations recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, followed by continued breastfeeding through the first one to two years of life and beyond.

Evidence continues to mount that disrupting optimal breastfeeding contributes to disease burden and premature death for women and children. Globally, optimal breastfeeding would prevent 823,000 child deaths each year. In the US, enabling optimal breastfeeding would prevent 721 child deaths and 2619 maternal deaths each year, as well as 600,000 ear infections, 2.6 million gastrointestinal illnesses, 5,000 cases of maternal breast cancer and more than 8,000 heart attacks.

Optimal infant feeding is also essential for economic development. Being breastfed is associated with a 3 to 4 point increase in IQ, leading to better school performance and workplace productivity. As stated by the World Bank’s Keith Hansen, “If breastfeeding did not already exist, someone who invented it today would deserve a dual Nobel Prize in medicine and economics.”

Breastfeeding is vital and essential to protect the world’s children, the most vulnerable who cannot speak for themselves.  Given the essential role of breastfeeding in global health and wellbeing, it is imperative that every nation supports policies and programs that enable women and children to breastfeed. It is therefore deeply troubling that the United States delegation to the World Health Assembly actively undermined efforts to enable optimal breastfeeding, as reported by the New York Times. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by bfmed

July 12, 2018 at 6:43 am

Every time a baby goes to breast, the $70 billion baby food industry loses a sale

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On Sunday, the most shared story in the New York Times was about breastfeeding – specifically, about how the US government threatened multiple countries with trade sanctions and withdrawal of military support if they backed a resolution calling for more support for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

According to the Times:

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

Why would the US government stand in the way of global breastfeeding advocacy? There are a number of theories – but my money is on the $70 billion baby food industry – upon whom the US dairy industry relies to convert massive milk surpluses into profitable products. In a face-off between a powerful industry lobby and global maternal and child health, the powerful industry carried the day.

This is the critical take-home message for anyone who cares about the health of moms and babies: When it comes to global infant and young child feeding, industry profits take precedence over public health. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by astuebe

July 8, 2018 at 9:46 pm

Separation of children and infants from parents – breastfeeding implications

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June 21, 2018 – The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, an international physician’s organization, condemns policies that result in the separation of parents from their children.

As the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has established, “Children have the right to life, survival and development and to the highest attainable standard of health, of which breastfeeding must be considered an integral component.” Mothers similarly have the right to nurture their children: “Restriction of women’s autonomy in making decisions about their own lives leads to violation of women’s rights to health and, infringes women’s dignity and bodily integrity.”

“Separating children from their parents results in toxic stress that impacts breastfeeding and health for a lifetime,” said Timothy Tobolic MD, President of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. “Furthermore, separating a mother from her breastfeeding child violates the human rights of both mother and child.”

Separation of the breastfeeding mother-baby pair further confers risk of acute illness for mother and child. Breastfeeding women who are separated from their infants and unable to drain their breasts will become engorged and are at risk for mastitis and breast abscesses. Unrelieved engorgement will precipitate involution and loss of milk supply.

Infants who are not breastfed face increased risks of ear infections, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Separation of any infant from their mother also has untold emotional harms on those children. These risks are magnified if they are housed in facilities where proper preparation of formula or washing bottles and teats is not available.

Indeed, in emergency settings, such as refugee camps for migrant populations fleeing oppression, the first principal of the 2017 Operational Guidance for Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies is the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. Separating a mother from her breastfed child violates this first principal.

ABM recommends reuniting infants and children with there parents without delay. When mother and child are reunited, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and IYCFE guidelines recommend individual-level assessment by a qualified health or nutrition professional trained in breastfeeding and infant feeding issues. The mother-child pair will need sustained support to reestablish lactation, with access to an appropriate breast milk substitute until the mother’s milk supply is reestablished or until at least six months of age and beyond.

“We agree with President Trump’s executive order to stop the separation of infants and children from their parents.” said Dr. Tobolic. “Families belong together and breastfeeding must be supported for the health of the children.”

Written by bfmed

June 21, 2018 at 1:31 pm

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Breastfeeding, advocacy and women’s rights

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In June 2015, I heard a fantastic talk by Keith Hansen, Vice President for Human Development at the World BankGroup, at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine summit. Hansen spoke eloquently about the importance of breastfeeding for both global health and economic development; he said, “If breastfeeding did not already exist, someone who invented it today would deserve a dual Nobel Prize in medicine and economics.”

I’d brought my teenage son with me to Washington, and when we met up for lunch, I shared Hansen’s quote. He responded, “If breastfeeding were invented today, there would be an outrage, because of feminism.”

It took me a few seconds to fully process this response, as I began to consider the implications of a newly-discovered practice that would require one half of the population to engage in thousands of hours of unpaid work, at all hours of the day and night, for the greater good. There would, indeed, be an outrage. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by astuebe

May 9, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders in Breastfeeding Mothers: To Treat or Not To Treat

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May 2nd is World Maternal Mental Health Day.  Here in my home state, The Governor and General Assembly, back in 2015, declared May as Maternal Mental Health Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The Blue Dot Project has defined this year’s Maternal Mental Health Week (#MMHweek) by removing the stigma of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Women (and men) all across the world are posting their stories (with a pastel blue dot) about the trials and tribulations of parenting, while showing the face of postpartum anxiety and depression.  #noshame #realparenting

On my iPhone early this morning, I saw a #MMHW post where a women posted a picture of her feeding her child with a bottle. She told her story about the guilt she felt (and still feels) about not being able to breastfeed her child and how that exacerbated her depression.  What followed were comments by so many other moms, how they also felt that guilt when their ‘body didn’t work’ making them unable to breastfeed their child.  Many of these women commented on how they felt shame when giving their child a bottle in public. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by NKSriraman

May 3, 2018 at 8:13 pm

Breastfeeding Mitigates a Disaster

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Holocaust Memorial day, or as it is called in Israel and worldwide  as “Yom Hashoah”,  is combination of the most depressing sadness as we  of memorialize the 6,000,000 murdered victims  of Nazi Germany and their European collaborators, and  paradoxically, a celebration  of those individuals who somehow survived the horrors of mass murder and ethnic cleansing. The realization that 1.5 million infants and children were singled out  for elimination by the Nazi so as to prevent the chances  of a historical continuity of the European Jewish community is somehow counterbalanced by the miraculous stories of infants surviving, especially in the most unlikely circumstances and conditions.

This  past Yom Hashoah I had the opportunity to  view a documentary entitled “Geboren in KZ” (“Born in a Concentration Camp”, a film  by Eva Gruberova and Martina Gawaz for GDR Television )  which recounts the unbelievable story of 7 infants who were born in 1945 in  the Dachau, Germany  concentration camp. The fact that the mothers of these infants were able to conceal their pregnancies and reach term without being detected in of itself  defies comprehension, for as we know the policy of the Nazis was to send any women diagnosed as pregnant directly to the crematorium. Some of the women  even escaped  detection and “selection” for death  by the infamous Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz before being transferred to Dachau  No less  miraculous so was their ability to maintain a  minimal degree of nutrition to sustain their pregnancy till term or near term. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by aeidelmanmd

April 12, 2018 at 5:22 am

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The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Issues Guidance on Informal Milk Sharing for Healthy Term Infants

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New Rochelle, NY, January 8, 2018—In response to the increasing informal sharing of human milk, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) has published guidelines to minimize the risk of this practice while enhancing the health benefits. The position statement is published in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Breastfeeding Medicine website until February 8, 2018.

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s 2017 Position Statement on Informal Breast Milk Sharing for the Term Healthy Infant ” discusses strategies to maximize the safety of community-based breast milk sharing, including 1) medical screening of the donor and 2) safe milk handling practices. Donors should have no medical illness where breastfeeding is contraindicated nor on any medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding. Mothers can further reduce the risk of infections by performing home pasteurization of donated milk prior to giving it to her infant; however, pasteurization can decrease some of the beneficial components of human milk. ABM also emphasizes that while informal milk sharing has potential health benefit, “internet-based milk sharing is not recommended under any circumstances.”

“Informal breast milk sharing is becoming increasingly common for healthy term infants as 21st century families desire to feed their infants human milk,” says Dr. Timothy Tobolic, president of ABM. “Physicians and other health care providers can help mothers and families evaluate the risks and benefits of informal milk sharing.”

Written by bfmed

January 8, 2018 at 6:23 pm