Consideration 28 - The History of Infant Nutrition
As time passes and we know more and more about the world, old ways are being discarded to be replaced by newer better ones. Regulations have a permanent quality that reflects the illusion of a pure truth. A look at the history of infant feeding will show a less than permanent quality. For instance;
“Scientific motherhood advise not only increasingly physicians instruction; it also promoted medically – directed bottle feeding with greater frequency and in greater detail. American women’s magazines and childcare manuals of the 1930s and 1940s, aimed at literate women, and which were distributed through-out the world, made breastfeeding almost invisible and, for all intents and purposes, they equated infant feeding with doctor-prescribed bottle feeding.”
J Hum Lact 10 1994
It has not been that long breastfeeding was strongly recommended. In 1981 the Jelliffes wrote the following.
RECENT TRENDS IN INFANT FEEDING!
Derrick B. lelliffe and E. F. Patrice lelliffe +12520
School of Public Health, University of California,
THE RESURGENCE OF BREAST FEEDING
The origins of the present-day resurgence in breast feeding in America date back some 25 years when two groups independently became involved: educated mothers such as La Leche League members in the USA (and similar social support groups in other industrialized countries) concerned with the need for more natural mothering; and “tropical pediatricians” anxious about the beginnings of the post-World War II move from breast to bottle in peri-urban areas in developing countries, with resultant diarrhea and marasmus (9, 10). Subsequently, these two groups have become aware of common aims, and, as the recent flood become available, its medical significance general pediatricians, specialists such as neonatologists (with the development of breast milk banks), immunologists, allergists, etc, and even, rather slowly, obstetricians.
Why weren’t Doctors or Health Canada in the lead on such an obvious issue? Doctors found that they could not argue against breastmilk, it is an impossible position for them. Not so for goat milk. The current supplier of goat milk in Alberta does not add folic acid to his goat milk.
“Throughout most of history, breastfeeding was the norm, with only a small number of infants not breastfed for a variety of reasons. In the distant past, wealthy women had access to wet nurses, but, with the industrial revolution, this practice declined, as wet nurses found higher-paying jobs. By the late 19th century, infant mortality from unsafe artificial feeding became an acknowledged public health problem. Public health nurses addressed this by promoting breastfeeding and home pasteurization of cows’ milk. In the early 20th century, commercial formula companies found a market for artificial baby milks as safer alternatives to cows’ milk. During this same period, infant feeding recommendations became the purview of the newly organized medical profession. Partially because of physician support and a vision of “scientific” infant care, the widespread use of formula as a breast milk substitute for healthy mothers and babies emerged.1, 2 Throughout the mid-20th century, most physicians did not advocate breastfeeding, and most women did not choose to breastfeed. An entire generation of women—and physicians—grew up not viewing breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. Despite the resurgence of breastfeeding in the late 20th century in the United States, breastfeeding and formula feeding continued to be considered virtually equivalent, representing merely a lifestyle choice parents may make without significant health sequelae.”