History of Carnation milks? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-30-2008, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I had someone tell me today that they were raised "perfectly healthy" on a diet of Carnation milk as an infant. Does anyone know the history of this and if it harmed infants?
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#2 of 9 Old 11-30-2008, 08:21 PM
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I don't know, but I'm going to move this to nutrition since it isn't specifically about promoting breastfeeding.

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#3 of 9 Old 11-30-2008, 09:00 PM
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My mom was born in the 40's and that's how she was fed. I was born in the 60's and I was fed the same way and so were my siblings. None of us had any health problems or food allergies as children. I'm the only one with the food allergies now but I didn't have any until age 26. I blame my dad smoking 4 packs of smokes a day and a former neighbors use of insanely high amounts of chemicals on his fields on the allergies rather than the carnation milk.
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#4 of 9 Old 11-30-2008, 09:59 PM
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My Mom (born in 1950 with a nurse as a mother) was fed carnation evaporated milk with corn syrup or karo syrup mixed in. I believe there used to be an infant formula recipe on the back of the carnation cans, and it was a pretty common "formula" fed to infants.

Oh, and I'll add that while my Mom (or her siblings, fed the same way) don't have any food allergies, they all have battled their weight all of their life.

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#5 of 9 Old 12-01-2008, 03:14 AM
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I found a copy of Dr. Spock (1969 edition) on the shelf in my parents' basement. In it, he gives the "formula" for making bottles using milk, sugar, and water. Evaporated milk like Carnation is suggested because it is cheaper. You had to mix the ingredients together in a certain proportion and boil for 20 minutes. That made enough formula for the next 24 hours or so. Then you had to do it again. (Why THIS was easier than breastfeeding is beyond me!)

So when people say they were fed on Carnation, that is probably what they mean. It wasn't until the late 1960s that commercial formulas appeared on the market; Dr. Spock mentions them in the book as being an expensive new development. Therefore, I guess it was the 1970s before they took off. Before that all formula-fed babies were fed on the boiled-Carnation style formula. I don't know how far back that goes; I know my grandmother saved the tag from my mother's hospital bassinet in her baby book and it had a Carnation ad on the back. And that was 1950. I'm guessing that the milk/sugar/water formula started in the days of even worse milk substitutes, like straight cows' milk or rice water.

Anyway, I found the Dr. Spock book fascinating. It was the first time it occurred to me that the word "formula" used to refer to a formula for a bottle that parents had to mix themselves.

Health effects? I would guess that some of the early studies about breastfed vs. formula fed infants were done during this time period, with similar results to later studies. That's just a guess, though. I don't have any knowledge about the history of formula vs. breastfeeding studies. And keep in mind that we have been fortunate in the last half-century to have a sum total of health advances which have meant that *most* babies survive and thrive no matter how they were fed. So, sure, many people are perfectly healthy although they were fed with Carnation. And many of us survived the 70s even though we rode without car seats. Et cetera. One particular person's experience doesn't prove anything scientifically; it's only in the aggregate that we can see the trends of what's healthier.
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#6 of 9 Old 12-01-2008, 05:56 AM
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My grandmother didn't breastfeed any of her children - she had 10 of them. They were all fed Carnation. Only 4 I think survived to adulthood, and of those, my mother is the only one still living, and healthy, although she does struggle with her weight. The others all had chronic health problems. Whether it was a result of the formula, we'll never know, but I'm willing to bet it had something to do with it.
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#7 of 9 Old 12-01-2008, 10:54 AM
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This is how I was fed as an infant. I had a lot of ear and throat infections as a child and was sick with colds a lot, but there were many factors that contributed to that in addition to being fed this way.
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#8 of 9 Old 12-01-2008, 11:02 AM
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My dh's grandmother just passed away and tucked away with paperwork from her first baby was a recipe from the hospital for formula. I'll have to find it later.
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#9 of 9 Old 12-01-2008, 02:14 PM
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Carnation + Karo was the original "formula".

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