Thursday, March 21, 2013

Milk - the perfect food for the young of the species

I’ve always been a fan of the adage that milk is the food that Nature designed for the young of the species and that cow’s milk is great food ... for baby calves. Which makes "soy milk” an ideal drink for baby soybeans - and "almond milk” for immature almonds. But jokes aside, seems like I’m in a tiny minority and when asked what my kids drank, the fact that they never had a “milky drink” leaves folk perplexed, and certainly no wiser about what they should choose for their own offspring.
Interesting that as a passionate and unashamed advocate of breast-feeding and infant-led weaning, some recent consulting work has seen me involved in some serious fact-finding about the growth and growth of markets for infant formula and other milk-based products, in Asia. The shift away from breast-feeding and the embrace of artificial formula is scary - in the developing world a fall from 45 percent breastfeeding at 6 months to 29 percent means massive increases in infant mortality, immune-related illnesses and long-term compromises in physical, mental and emotional development. I was compelled to comment on a recent story that likened Infant Formula to gold dust ...
What would it take for all babies to get their birthright?
As an author specialising in natural ways to healthier happier babies, and unashamed breastfeeding advocate, I watch with dismay as the developing world follows blindly in the footsteps of the west, casting breastfeeding aside in favour of "progress" in the guise of infant formula. In Australia we try to stem the tide of artificial feeding by promoting breastfeeding as NORMAL, not better, healthier, easier, cheaper, all of the above - just NORMAL. Our b/f rates stay much the same. Maybe South Africa has an answer? There, infant formula is now only available on prescription. What would it take to ensure that babies get their mother's milk? Legislation to enforce the breastfeeding marketing code globally? IF company representatives who are legally responsible for compliance with rigorous policing thereof? Offset the current, very significant commercial returns to the IF companies, with a punitive tax? This would go to fund the massive cost of compromised health (physical, mental and emotional), because let's face it, the adverse consequences of formula feeding affect the whole of society via increased disease rates and subsequent penalties for all taxpayers! 

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