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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
they're after you... October 10, 2010, 8:21 PM

How dare you try and force facts down my throat… how dare anyone tell me not to formula feed, not to blow dope in my kids face, not to sneak vodka into the baby’s bottle, not to slap the kid when they’re getting in my face, not to smoke, to not drink and drive, to always put my kid in a carseat… so what if that’s what it take to get by. They’re all out to push their stupid agenda’s and oppress us. Stand strong for what you believe in and don’t listen to that research bulls**t huh.

Anne Marie Hiestand October 11, 2010, 5:51 PM

Why are people so defensive? The article was anti-formula companies, not anti-formula feeding moms! The author even said that there are situations that call for formula, and that for some babies it is necessary. It seems to me that the bigger issue, and one that the author points out, is that there needs to be stricter testing and standards in place for formula, and that mothers deserve to know the facts in order to make an informed decision. One of these facts is that formula is not breast milk, nor will it ever be/have the same components of breast milk. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t true, nor does it mean that you are a “bad mother” if you do not breastfeed your child.

In Christ,
Anne Marie

I know plenty of good mothers who formula feed. Just because I support them, doesn’t mean that I have to support formula companies who are out to make a profit, not to help mothers and babies. End of story.

Erin October 12, 2010, 8:16 AM

I don’t understand why people are getting so up in arms… this article even acknowledges that there is a need for formula, but calls out the FORMULA COMPANIES for their sneaky advertising practices and lack of caring about the safety of their customers. As a breastfeeding mother, I am horrified by formula recalls, despite the fact that it doesn’t affect my family. Anything that could harm babies upsets me. If I actually was a person who had USED this product? I would be absolutely LIVID! I wouldn’t be saying, “Gosh, don’t make me feel bad for my choices.” I’d be saying, “Preach on, sister, the formula companies need to own up and stop doing things like this!”

And people, at least go to Google before you post your ridiculous assertions about why women in Africa should not nurse… “Can malaria be transmitted through breastmilk” will give you your answer very quickly if you type it in there. If formula really were superior or even close, don’t you think that’s what the ads would say? Instead, they are forced to remind people that breast is best (much like cigarette companies are forced to remind you that smoking is not good for you), and are prevented from making false claims such as, “Even better than breastmilk!” Hold these companies responsible and demand a better product for your children! All of you defensive people are the ones who should care the most! It’s YOUR children, not mine, who are at risk in this instance!

wvwoman October 12, 2010, 9:37 AM

Point your anger in the proper direction…everything in this article is true, whether you like it or not! Don’t be defensive if you didn’t breastfeed…you need to know the truth about what you have chosen. Just because something keeps a baby alive doesn’t mean it’s as good as breast milk. If you’re “riled up” about the content of this article, your outrage should be directed at the formula companies. (I remember the boycott of one of those companies back in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s because of their third-world practices causing so much infant death; I still don’t buy that company’s chocolate bars!)

vicki October 12, 2010, 3:22 PM

I can’t believe some of the uneducated comments on this article. If you don’t want to breastfeed then don’t but don’t say “You have to eat right to breastfeed.” Do women in deepest darkest Africa eat three balanced meals a day? Do women in Mexico give up chilis to breastfeed? “I never made enough milk or I couldn’t make any milk.” So did you read a book or attend an education class before you had your baby so you would be educated in this area and find out how milk production comes about and stays in place? Come on people. If you really don’t want to make the time and effort to give your babies the very best then just continue defending yourselves and upholding the formula companies. Do you go to bat for the brand of car you drive or the cereal you buy also?

just8 October 12, 2010, 5:55 PM

Fabulous article. Thank you for speaking the hard truth.

Anonymous October 12, 2010, 7:37 PM


Anonymous October 12, 2010, 7:37 PM


Anonymous October 13, 2010, 8:13 AM

Do women in deepest darkest Africa eat three balanced meals a day?

No and that’s why they have a ridiculously HIGH infant mortality rate.

Allison October 14, 2010, 5:01 PM

I always feel bad when I see a baby formula fed— giving chemicals to your baby, how wonderful. And the author says some people have to use formula b/c they are working long hours? Who is taking care of your baby then? You are not being much of a mother if you are not even around to raise your baby. And saying that some people use formula b/c of sexual abuse is absurd— come on!

Jess March 5, 2011, 8:46 PM

I breastfee both of my children for a yea and switched to whole milk. I think formula is nasty. Fake nutrition. This had me wondering how babies were fed before formula. If you look back the greatest inventors were born before formula. So who are the greatest inventors now? There really isn’t many history maker inventors. That says poor nutrition to me. Breastfeed is the way God made us and it’s what we need to do.

susan March 9, 2011, 5:40 PM

sorry but the lady who wrote the article is right. It’s sad that women don’t nurse.

Teofila Kutzner March 17, 2011, 6:52 AM

I’d be inclined to allow with you here. Which is not something I typically do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!

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