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The breastfeeding brouhaha

 
 
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 03:49 pm
A new report came out this month that challenged the conventional wisdom about breastfeeding. The new report says that it really doesn't make any difference whether a parent breastfeeds or formula feeds. This has led to some bickering on a few parenting forums.

One interesting point I've seen raised is the "workplace gains" women have made in being allowed to breastfeed and in having comfortable facilities in which they are allowed to do so while at work. Some women are worried that these rights will be eroded due to the new study. I think they're right to be worried.

If a workplace policy is based on junk science should it be allowed to stand? Should an employer have to allow women time to breastfeed during the course of the workday if this new report is true?

I'm also curious about the "culture" of breastfeeding.

What this report did differently is removing the socio-economic statis of the research subjects. It seems that wealthier, better educated women are more likely to breastfeed.

Why is this? It seems to me that someone who is not financially secure would be more interested in the free food breastfeeding supplies. Formula is expensive.

Is breastfeeding looked down on in lower income brackets or is it just the convenience of formula feeding while a parent works that makes it more common?
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Type: Question • Score: 5 • Views: 935 • Replies: 11
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 04:15 pm
I have always heard that breastfeeding is superior because the woman is giving the infant the necessary components of a healthy immune system. Do you know if these recent claims have taken that into account?
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 04:23 pm
@Setanta,
This report seems to contradict that. I think the only thing they found of any statistical significance was the incidence of asthma -- which was higher in the breastfed babies.

What the report seems to boil down to is that healthy, wealthy, better educated women typically breastfeed and all the benefits we've heard that breastfeeding provides is really from having a healthy, wealthy, better educated parent.

This study looked at sibling groups where one (or more) child had been breastfed and one (or more) had been formula fed. Their outcomes were nearly identical.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 04:36 pm
That's interesting--thanks, Boss.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 05:04 pm
@Setanta,
When I worked in immunology labs in the 60's and 70's, the word was the child's thymus didn't really kick in fully or near fully until the baby was six months old - so ever after I've thought at least six months of getting the mother's antibody making system, through breast milk, was a good idea - not just cutting her antibodies etc. off at the day of birth. I just looked that up now, and don't see much about that - but at the time that was a big reason why our lab docs considered breast milk expecially highly.

I've no clue if this is considered still true.

I did read about the study yesterday or recently, thought it interesting.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 05:26 pm
Just read the thymus isn't completely mature re production until the child is five years old. Didn't save the link, but it was on one of the pages I looked at after googling 'thymus'.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 05:35 pm
Thanks--that's also something interesting about which i did not know.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 05:44 pm
Interesting, osso.

It seems I've read things lately about how our freak out on keeping things scrupulously clean and bacteria free has not done our kids any favors regarding their immune systems. I don't remember where all I've read it but I'll see if I can find it.

I suppose for the thymus to mature it would need to be exposed to some things...
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Feb, 2014 06:45 pm
@boomerang,
Oh, lab tech that I am still in my mind (way behind the curve but there in spirit), I was taught about antibiotic resistance from overuse, that back in '61 or '62.
I kept clean lab techniques, of course, but I'm the opposite in regular life, thinking some dirt is good for ya, antibody wise, and have since read that early exposure to cats and dogs is a good idea. I'm a one-person proof of that, having been kept away from them at early age. Achew!!!! Hardly met a cat in passing until I was in my twenties. Madly allergic to them after that. Was around a dog when I was seven - maybe that saved my doggie soul, since I can be allergic to them but not enough to keep me from having them as pets. Had my own first dog in my early thirties.

The whole clean your counters with antibacterials business has long driven me nuts, as well as the overprescribing of antibios, including in our food animals. Well, I'll just shut up now before I turn red faced.

I do agree antibiotics are sometimes a wise choice, and a clean house would be a good thing for someone highly immune depressed. I'm neutral on antibacterials in doctors' offices and hospitals, as in not sure what I think yet - but in those places, I just wash my hands.

Not quite shutting up yet - I'm generally pro vaccines.
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Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2014 03:06 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
It seems that wealthier, better educated women are more likely to breastfeed.


To me that makes perfect sense. These are the women who are more likely to research and read up upon what is best for their babies. Better education, more likely to do research and such. They find in (at least what was told by doctors and the "they" people in the internet realm of research) that your baby will be smarter, healthier, etc to breastfeed so they do. They can also afford the fancy easier to use breast pumps and how to store and use and fight for places to have comfty breast feeding areas, and breast pumping rooms at work.

It isn't the low education, lower quality jobs that have breast feeding rooms and time off for this -- it is more the higher quality jobs/businesses that offer this. Or rather -- more likely to have these women fight to get these benefits.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2014 03:14 pm
@Setanta,
I just looked up the latest research - reduced risk of gastrointestinal problems for the baby seems to be the major remaining physical benefit for infants who have been breast-fed. The other statistically measurable benefits (in the most recent study) are for the mother.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2014 03:18 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
If a workplace policy is based on junk science should it be allowed to stand? Should an employer have to allow women time to breastfeed during the course of the workday if this new report is true?

Is the policy based on the science though? Some women prefer breastfeeding, some prefer formula feeding. Either way, they have reasons of their own to do it. And either way, these reasons are none of the employer's business. Her body, her baby, her choice.

boomerang wrote:
It seems that wealthier, better educated women are more likely to breastfeed.

Why is this?

My guess would be cultural conservatism. Good educations and high incomes both correlate positively with atheism, so they should also correlate negatively with religious belief --- especially with belief in the kind of religions that are squeamish about naked boobs.
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