Breast milk is widely considered to be the optimal form of nutrition for infants. But ever since the 60s, many parents and caregivers turned to baby formula as an alternative.
Is baby formula truly safe? Is breastfeeding better?
These are questions that have been the subject of much debate in recent years, with some experts raising concerns about the potential risks and downsides of formula feeding.
Stories such as the Toxic Baby Formula NEC Lawsuit have been making the rounds recently, as some infants have experienced severe life-threatening conditions as a result of relying on baby formula for nutrition. Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson are two companies at the center of this legal battle that started across several states in the first half of 2022.
The number of lawsuits against them has since tripled and indicates how careful mothers in America and the world ought to be when thinking about nutritional sources for their children.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the issue of baby formula safety, examining the available scientific evidence and exploring the benefits of breast milk. We will also consider some of the alternative options that are available to parents and caregivers who are looking for ways to ensure that their babies receive the best possible nutrition.
Is Baby Formula Safe for Your Baby?
The safety of baby formula has been a topic of debate in recent years. While formula is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must meet certain nutritional standards, some experts have raised concerns about the potential risks associated with formula feeding.
One potential risk of formula feeding is the increased risk of infections as compared to breastfed infants. Some of these risks are:
- Higher risk of developing allergies
- Increased risk of ear infections
- Increased risk of diarrhea
- Higher risk of respiratory infections
- Higher risk of developing asthma
- Higher risk of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
In addition, studies have also observed the following long-term health risks:
- Higher risk of obesity and related health issues.
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life
- Higher risk of some cancers
- Less beneficial gut microbiome in formula-fed babies
- Higher risk of developmental delays.
Research suggests that formula-fed babies may have cognitive and behavioral differences compared to breastfed babies.
Why Do People Prefer to Breastfeed Infants?
Given these frightening side effects, it is no wonder that mothers around the world feel more comfortable with using natural breast milk. A CDC report released last year mentions how breastfeeding had several health benefits not just for infants, but for children and mothers as well. It went on to say that breastfeeding is a key strategy for improving public health.
In addition to being much safer, breastfeeding your infant also has the following benefits:
- Nutritional benefits: Breast milk is considered to be the optimal form of nutrition for infants, as it contains all the necessary nutrients and antibodies that an infant needs to grow and thrive. Breast Milk also has the ability to change its composition over time to meet the evolving nutritional needs of the baby.
- Bonding: Breastfeeding can be a special time for bonding between mother and baby. It provides a physical and emotional connection that can be beneficial for both the mother and the baby.
- Convenience: Breastfeeding eliminates the need to prepare formula or store and clean bottles. It also eliminates the cost of formula and bottles.
- Health benefits: Breastfeeding has been linked to a reduced risk of various health conditions for both the mother and the baby, such as a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, allergies, and obesity.
- Cost-effective: Breastfeeding is cost-effective, and it does not require buying formula or bottles.
- Better for the environment: Breastfeeding does not produce any waste, such as plastic bottles and cans of formula, and therefore, it is considered to be more environmentally friendly.
Can You Mix Breast Milk and Formula?
Mixing breastmilk and formula is generally not recommended as it can alter the balance of nutrients that your baby is getting and can also change the taste and consistency of the milk.
If you are breastfeeding and also supplementing with formula, it’s important to find out how much formula your baby needs in order to ensure that they are getting the right balance of nutrients.
If you are using formula for supplementing, it’s also important to note that it’s not necessary to mix it in the same bottle or feed. You can offer formula in separate feeds during the day or night.
Another aspect that needs to be remembered is that you need to use the formula within 24 hours after mixing. Formula shouldn’t be stored for later use.
In any case, it’s always best to consult with a pediatrician when it comes to supplementing your baby’s diet with formula, to ensure that your baby is getting the right balance of nutrients and to adjust it according to your baby’s needs.
The dangers and side effects of formula on infants have been a topic that’s gotten a lot of attention since the 70s. It is disappointing that half a century later, the issues with formula still haven’t been addressed as much as they should be, and stories keep coming out all the time about unethical advertising.
Breastfeeding your infant remains the best way to fulfill your baby’s nutritional needs. It is natural, healthy, and has a host of other positive benefits. On the other hand, for those mothers who are unable to breastfeed or have medical issues that make it difficult, formula can be used but with proper consultation with a doctor.