Breastfeeding & Bottle-feeding Experts
[Another pseudo-expert, see [2009 July] So is breast NOT best? Expert claims benefits of breastfeeding have been hugely exaggerated]
Is breast really best? Professor defies official advice to
hail formula milk as just as good
By Fiona Macrae
Last updated at 12:43 PM on 07th January 2010
Breast milk is no better for a baby than formula, an expert claimed last night as he reignited the 'breast is best' debate.
Professor Sven Carlsen said breast-fed babies were slightly healthier, but it was not the milk that made the difference.
Instead, babies who are breast-fed have benefited from better conditions in the womb before birth.
The professor, an expert in the hormonal changes of pregnancy, claimed: 'Baby formula is as good as breast milk.'
The bold statement will enrage the 'breast is best' lobby, who say a mother's milk wards off a host of ills. It will also confuse mothers who are under pressure from the Department of Health to feed their babies on breast milk alone for the first six months of life.
NHS leaflets tell mothers that breast-feeding exclusively for the first six months will help protect their baby against obesity, eczema and ear, chest and tummy bugs.
Avoiding formula, they are told, will cut the odds of a child being a fussy eater in later life, as well as cut the woman's odds of some cancers and help with weight loss.
But Professor Carlsen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, spoke out after carrying out a review of more than 50 studies into the relationship between health and breast-feeding.
Most concluded that the longer a child is nursed, the healthier it will be. The professor said this may be the case, but it was because of a healthier pregnancy, not the breast milk. His research shows that high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the womb affect a woman's ability to produce milk and to breast-feed.
With testosterone levels affected by the health of the placenta, which ferries oxygen and nutrients to the baby, the professor believes high amounts indicate poorer conditions in the womb overall.
This means that any differences in the health of a baby bottle-fed because its mother finds breastfeeding difficult are set before birth, rather than afterwards.
But Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health spokesman Charlotte Wright said the claims were 'irresponsible and overblown'.
She said: 'Women should remember that we were not designed to be bottle-fed - formula is an artificial alternative.'
Clare Byam-Cook, a former midwife who has taught celebrities such as Kate Winslet and Natasha Kaplinsky how to feed their babies, said breast-feeding was not suitable for all.
She said: 'How a mother looks after herself and her growing baby in pregnancy
is the most important thing that she can do.
'Once the baby is out, of course I would advocate breastfeeding. But if the mother can't do it she shouldn't pursue it too much and she certainly shouldn't feel guilty.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1241051/Breast-milk-NOT-better-baby-formula-scientists-claim.html