June 20, 2007

Milk in the News

Two items on the news caught my attention last night: (1) breastfeeding advocates baring their boobs before the Supreme Court to protest the government inaction on the Milk Code; and (2) the Bureau of Food and Drugs ordering Wyeth to recall 2 million cans of infant formula.

Under the Milk Code, manufacturers of infant formula aren't supposed to advertise or promote their products. The breast-baring mamas have it down pat: breast milk is best for babies. They have figures--okay, numerical figures--to show for it too.

The Associated Press, which picked up the story, cited the following:

  • Unicef legal counsel David Clark said the Philippines has the lowest breast feeding rate in 56 countries in Asia and the Pacific, based on the worldwide Demographic Health Surveys in the last 10 years.

  • ... health care firms spend billions of pesos in advertisements every year to persuade mothers to try their products.

  • ...Filipino families spend P21.5 billion yearly to buy infant formula when breast milk is instantly available from nursing mothers.

  • ...formula-fed babies are 14 times more likely to die from gastric ailments, sepsis, meningitis and other illnesses than those who were breast-fed in the crucial first two years of the infant.
Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with active mammary glands. While I had already psyched myself into breastfeeding my baby, I had to turn to the bottle when lactation was nowhere in sight. I did lactate three days after giving birth, but the milk wasn't enough for the guzzler that is my daughter. I ended up mixing formula and breastmilk,and even then, my natural supply only lasted two months.

It's not that I didn't try. I religiously took doctor-prescribed supplements that were supposed to keep the milk flowing. When those didn't work, I was game enough to try this weird concoction of buko, malunggay leaves, camote leaves and what have yous swimming in coconut milk.

Still nothing. So I reworked my budget to include P900++ for a 900-gram can of infant formula every five days. When the baby turned two, the P900 went down to P803 for a 1.6 kg can every 10 days.

I was perfectly happy with the formula that was touted to nourish gifted young minds. Now, though, I'm not so sure. My daughter's formula is among those that figured in the BFAD list on News No. 2. There's some kind of relief in seeing that the manufacturing date is fairly recent, but then again, am I expected to memorize all the other manufacturing dates on all the other cans?

Times like this and motherhood becomes a one-way ticket to paranoia.


Cat is my copilot said...

The idea of our children/selves consuming tainted foods is very, very scary. And her in the US, I know so many women who do their best to feed their babies solely on breast milk but many don't produce enough and need to supplement with formula, and from what we know, these babes are healthy. :)

Mother Knows Best said...

Carol Rivera (mother of three) and Estee Wallace (mother of two) started www.Mother-Knows-Best.org to provide information to mothers and potential mothers in the Philippines on breastfeeding and safe practices for providing nutrition to children. We believe that breastmilk is the best nutritional source for infants, but if breastmilk is not available women should have information to make informed choices about next-best alternatives. Can you please have a look at our Web site and consider authoring a review or comments for your readers?