December 4, 2003

Screwed Up World.... Okay warning this has nothing to do with homeschooling - skip it if you like. I am VERY FRUSTRATED right now about the status of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.

I started out hopeful and excited - for once a message that stated the truth - not just "Breast is Best" but that choosing not to breastfeed has potential and proven consequences. The campaign ads were to illustrate that children who are not breastfed have a "higher risk of developing asthma, diabetes, leukemia and other illnesses."

But lo and behold in comes the formula manufacturers to express their displeasure at the risks of not breastfeeding being highlighted (THESE ARE A REALITY PEOPLE) and suddenly the AAP changes it's position. From the article:
The campaign has divided physician members of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Joe M. Sanders Jr., the academy's executive director, and Dr. Carden Johnston, its president, sent a letter to Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of health and human services, in early November expressing their concerns about the tone of the campaign and the soundness of the science providing the base for some of its claims. That upset the academy's own breastfeeding experts, who had been working with the government on the ads and supported their aggressive message.

Dr. Lawrence M. Gartner, the former chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Chicago and current chairman of the academy's executive committee on breastfeeding, said he believed that academy officials might have sent the letter to appease formula manufacturers; some of them are large financial donors to the group.

The Dr's claim they were changing their position before the formula companies objected because some members were "concerned that the advertisements could make mothers who chose not to breastfeed feel guilty if their child later developed leukemia or another medical condition."

While I empathize with their point - these mothers are ENTITLED to the truth and not to be shielded from the truth for fear of hurting their feelings or potentially making some people feel guilty. They should only feel guilty if they KNEW the risks and chose to do it anyway. The AAP and formula companies seem to be advocating hiding the truth from parents - letting the soft "Breast is Best" campaign continue.

Don't get me wrong I am all for supporting "Breast is Best" but our breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates in this country show that it has not been enough. I believe many parents simply don't realize that there are risks if you don't breastfeed and then chose to bottle feed. If these parents knew that breastfeeding would offer their children not only advantages but be preventative of many other things perhaps some would choose to breastfeed than.

It just enrages and saddens me that we live in a culture that will put babies and small children's health at risk for fear of hurting someone's feelings and so some companies can make more money. It is disappointing and disgusting in my opinion. Perhaps people need to be offended and feel a little guilty to instill a necessary change in our country. Progress isn't always comfortable - but that doesn't make it wrong.

Read the article for yourself. Breastfeeding Ads Delayed by a Dispute Over Content.


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