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Why I Hate Infant Formula Companies!

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: The recent recall of millions of bottles and cans of Similac infant formula has sparked a Senate inquiry. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, issued a letter to Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Similac, asking why the company waited so long to issue a recall after discovering that their product was contaminated with beetle parts. Concerned parents had been making complaints to the FDA for weeks before Abbott did anything. Urgh!

mad looking woman
I hate infant formula companies. I should also tell you that I rarely use the word "hate". It's a word with no open door. "Hate" shuts down any chances for revision and interpretation that the phrase "don't like" hints at. But I also hate dead babies. 

Here's the deal: Corporations who make artificial infant food are never going away. Formula is vital to nursing mothers who are forced to work long hours and need to supplement their breast milk. It's a godsend for women who may have suffered sexual abuse and who have PTSD-like panic attacks when their breasts are touched. And it's vital for foster and adoptive parents. (Although I'm sure that if I ever adopted, I would take the money normally spent on formula and impractical frilly baby dresses and put some nursing mother in business as my own private dairy. But that's me.) Shouldn't those populations of mothers be enough for formula companies? How greedy must they be? 

What I hate about corporations that manufacture formula is how they tell lies and create markets for themselves, while putting infant lives at risk. The World Health Organization issued an international breastfeeding code that calls for, among other things, enforcement of honest advertising and product claims. It breaks my heart when a product so inferior to human breast milk is compared to it in any way. 

Formula is mostly protein, fat and water. Breast milk contains hundreds of nutrients designed by nature to fuel a growing body and brain. It cannot be replicated. But you wouldn't believe that if you read the label of most any formula bottle or can. That's only one small reason why I hate formula companies, though. I mostly hate them because of the "free" samples they give in hospitals. It's usually a two-week supply -- just enough time to dry up a mother's own milk and interrupt nature's most sophisticated system for infant survival. 

And as if that weren't enough, they do it in poor countries where mothers have little money to purchase the product themselves. So mothers water it down in an attempt to stretch out their free sample, or they mix the powder with contaminated water. Babies slowly starve or get terrible infections that kill them. And you know the most heinous thing about this inhumane capitalistic marketing strategy? In some of those countries, breastfeeding is the only form of birth control available to women. So formula companies contribute to the infant birth rate and the infant death rate. 

In their book "Milk, Money and Madness," Naomi Baumslag and Dia L. Michels give hard evidence. "This widespread use of formula means that worldwide, 1.5 million babies die every year because they were not breastfed," it says on page 93. "And this does not only happen in developing countries. One study estimates that four out of every 100 babies born in the U.S. each year die because they are not breastfed. That adds up to thousands of infant deaths a year that could have been prevented by breastfeeding." Naomi Baumslag is a clinical professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical School, as well as the president of the Women's International Public Health Network. She knows what she's talking about!

Here's my advice for profit-hungry formula companies: If you must make money off mothers, manufacture breast pumps and accessories. Give those women in poor countries jobs sewing totally cute breastfeeding clothes and nursing bras. Manufacture nipple guards and breastfeeding pillows. Since you're a drug company, put money into research for drugs that might help a mother increase her milk supply or fight postpartum depression. Support nature. Don't interfere with it. Please. Babies' lives are at stake!

next: What If Your Kid's the Bully?
97 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer October 6, 2010, 5:25 AM

Um, I’m not happy about the contamination BUT, making people sound sadistic for not wanting to breastfeed is horrible. You sound just like those women I referred to as the “nursing nazis” when my daughter was a baby. I was formula fed, and so was my daughter and we’re just fine, thanks.

Jamie RN October 6, 2010, 6:00 AM

I love formula companies!! Thanks to them I have 4 healhty, gorgeous children who were NEVER sick or underweight as babies (unlike some of my non-formula friends’ babies)

And as for the statement “Breast milk contains hundreds of nutrients” that’s ONLY if mom is eating right, which most don’t.

As for free samples YEAH they saved me money. I KNEW breast feeding was not for me before I even got pregnant and that’s my proud choice so it helped me out to get 2 weeks free food. And don’t cry about it being offered at hospitals - women having children are BIG girls -they can say no. Especially since there is obscene amounts of pressure to breast feed there is no one forcing them to take the formula.

Get over yourself.

Meredith October 6, 2010, 7:55 AM

I agree with both PP. This is a disgusting article.

Erik October 6, 2010, 8:00 AM

Thank you Jennifer and Jamie RN. Before I read your comments, I was almost in tears thinking I was poisoning my babies by feeding them formula. I bf’d both of them until they were 8 weeks old. I went back to work and couldn’t do it anymore. My formula fed 3 year old is smart, beautiful, funny and hardly sick. Aren’t doctors suppose to help mommies make the best decisions for both their babies and themselves? I would never seek you out for advice or healthcare.

H October 6, 2010, 8:07 AM

What the disgusting part is; that formula companies advertise that is is the next best thing to breast milk. Guess what ladies: it isn’t.
Formula is an inferior product. Don’t fool yourselves.

Jamie RN October 6, 2010, 8:41 AM

Formula in many cases can be better than breast milk. It’s why it is prescribed to underweight babies and those “failing the thrive”.

The difference between formula and breast milk is neglible. The only reason “nursing nazi” fall back to that argument seems to be that they feel unconfident in their choice.

Happy Mom=Healthy Baby. Most of us grew up on formula and are better than fine.

Sol October 6, 2010, 8:51 AM

Never fails that when someone posts an article about formula companies (NOT FORMULA USERS) the formula users come out to defend their choices.

The author is not attacking your choices but stating that these companies are profiting by spreading the ill conceived (and dangerous) notion that formula is just like breast milk. One too many mothers are told that it is all the same and believe it.

It isn’t the same. Formula is not better nutritionally. It may be what you feel is BEST FOR YOU but it is not better than breast milk or what is best nutritionally (in most circumstances) for your baby. That is not ‘nursing nazi’ mama propaganda. That is nutritional fact.

The nutritional content, quality and ingredients in formula aren’t even required to be regularly checked! We should demand this change immediately. If you are going to choose to feed your child an alternative to breast milk shouldn’t the company who manufacturers this life sustaining product be required to provide you with some proof they actually care about your child? A list of ingredients that sound like those made up in a pharmaceutical lab is not enough.

Even if a mother isn’t keeping a decent diet in most cases her milk IS STILL better than formula-contrary to what anyone out there wants to make themselves believe.

These companies are taking advantage of(and profiting) off the poor & underprivileged of not just the US but of the world. To ignore the simple fact that breastfeeding saves lives is ignorant of every single pro-formula commenter that is bound to fill up this thread.

If you are going to taut this product as the best thing ever for your family then it should live up to and stand up the standard of what is truly best ie. Breast milk.

Sharon October 6, 2010, 8:59 AM

I wish people would please stop saying “Most of us were raised on formula and are all fine.” What world are you living in? Who is just fine? Have you seen the latest stats on obesity in America? Do you really believe that breast feeding going down/formula feeding going up has nothing to do with this?

When you start your child and family off on pharmaceutical manufactured artificial substances that are mostly protein, fat and water what do you think the building blocks of the nutrition in that family are more likely to be? Good wholesome foods or convenient processed foods?

What type of taste for food are our children developing?

To continue to fool ourselves into believing that fake foods are better than good natural wholesome foods is one of the reasons nothing is going to get better and our children’s children will be worst off for it.

Anonymous October 6, 2010, 9:57 AM

Maybe formula companies should stop making and selling formula then all the women who can’t breastfeed won’t be able to feed their babies. That includes women who adopt children too. Appearantly, it would be better to let children die from starvation than to feed them horrible formula.

Jennifer October 6, 2010, 10:02 AM

As I said, I was formula fed, and so was my daughter and yes, we are JUST FINE. Not overweight, not unhealthy, we’re both active and happy.

And the statement that four out of every 100 babies dies from not being breastfed is pure bunk. Really? (Pffft!) And who on earth still believes that bfeeding is a reliable form of birth control?

Yes, they should fix the quality controls in place for infant formula, but there is nothing wrong with feeding your baby formula. I know of MANY parents who bf their kids and they’re overweight now.

People should not be made to feel guilty for making the best choice for their child in their situation. Go yell at someone who really is doing a crappy job- like that mom who taped her kid to the wall.

Jennifer October 6, 2010, 10:04 AM

Oh Anon….it’s a good thing I had put my tea down cause otherwise it would be all over my monitor! LOL. I firmly believe the nursing nazis I had to deal with would take your statement totally seriously and try to implement it as the law of the land.

Anonymous October 6, 2010, 10:11 AM

“Even if a mother ins’t keeping a decent diet in most cases her milk IS STILL better than formula”

Incorrect!! The milk will NOT be better than formula if mom’s diet isn’t good! Where on earth do you think breast milk gets it’s nutritional value - FROM THE MOTHER’S DIET.

Please inform yourselves

KS October 6, 2010, 10:13 AM

BRAVO, lady blogger, BRAVO. People need to hear this information. It’s the truth. The cold hard facts many people have been unwilling to see. I have four children who were breast and formula fed. I am thankful that there was a substitute to breast milk when my babies were either unable or unwilling to nurse. As we all know feeding babies is better than starving them to death.

Here in America women are given so much misinformation sometimes by the formula companies themselves that sets them us up for failure. Its a crying shame that so many babies are given substandard food from the time they are born and moms are vehemently against educating themselves because they are defensive.

Anyone who takes offence to the facts needs to stop being so darn defensive and own their choices. If you feel that information is offensive and facts are derogatory YOU have a problem.

Annie October 6, 2010, 10:16 AM

Thanks anonymous for pointing out the insanity of those who have nothing better to do with their time than be nurse nazis!!

And to the ignoramus who posted :Have you seen the latest stats on obesity in America

Overeating causes you to be obese - not formula.

All I have to say is my perfect little guys were all formula fed - never sick. My sister strictly breast fed and had non-stop ear infections and kids who are doing poorly in school now.

Seriously, Jamie RN was right - if breast feeders were so “confident” then why on earth do they care how anyone else chooses to feed their babies?

Nursing Mama October 6, 2010, 11:03 AM

Wow, it blows my mind how many moms are commenting here to defend their choice to use formula. Obviously, if you don’t have enough breastmilk to keep up with your baby’s demand, then formula is better than starvation. But what this blogger was saying is that formula company marketing often interferes with a woman’s ability to build her supply through frequent exclusive nursing in the early weeks after birth, AND that formula marketing provides misinformation that makes many moms not even TRY to nurse. It can be hard to measure or prove formula-related deaths in the US, but it is FACT that formula feeding leads to thousands of infant deaths in developing nations. And as for breastfeeding as birth control…again, it doesn’t mean much in the US when we have access to pills & condoms, but it can make a HUGE difference in spacing children in developing countries. Please don’t “kill the messenger”…

Rachel October 6, 2010, 11:07 AM

Okay then….reading these comments makes me feel that confessing that I breastfed will get me attacked by the “formula-nazis”.

Laila October 6, 2010, 11:14 AM

And as for breastfeeding as birth control

Nope - breast feeding is NOT birth control. I got pregnant with my second WHILE strictly breastfeeding my newborn. PLEASE DON’T SPREAD THIS TYPE OF IGNORANCE!!

I bf’ed my first, formula fed my second. NO difference in either baby. I was a happy mom formula feeding so I will do it for my third.

It’s a personal choice and one is no better than the other. I think that alot of breastfeeders just like to think they are “the best mom”. Eh, I’m not into competing with other moms, so I’m satisfied being a formula feeder who is the BEST mom for MY kids.

Meghan October 6, 2010, 11:17 AM

Here in America women are given so much misinformation sometimes by the formula companies

WOW what a patently untrue statement!! All formula commercials even start with “Breast is best”. Every hospital practically crucifies you if you suggest you may even think about formula feeding. I think it’s up to you what you choose to do, but seriously, it’s overwhelmingly obvious (the article above proving so) that for whatever reason women who breast feed are constantly attacking those of us who don’t care whether they do or don’t.

Monika  October 6, 2010, 11:20 AM

Thank you to SOl…. I am a former Formula feeder and did supplement for a short period with this baby because I could not afford a pump. I am not anti- formula feeders I am anti formula companies. All there advertising making bottle feeding the norm. It is not the norm. It is an alternative, but if you are going to use an alternative should it not be the best possible. Be checked over and over again reviewed.

NOT a single person checks to make sure it is safe besides the company them self. I do not trust them. Do you?? I mean they are trying to profit off of it.

I care about other babies because I care about the world. I want the alternatives to be the best possible. I know that Breastfeeding is the best possible,but not always possible in all cases. But I want the best possible for my children and yours. I am not so selfish that I just say well my baby is ok, but screw everyone else.

A mothers body will give nutrients to the milk first before her own body.

Denise October 6, 2010, 11:22 AM

WOW. Points totally missed by emotions. The author clearly stated that there is a place for formula but a very small place. I would love to debate these issues further but if the participants can’t even read this post clearly then how can they maneuver through the mountains of research that support every point made. For all the name callers there is a difference between arguing and debating.

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