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Breastfeeding article on Slate--any thoughts?

572 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  mommabean3
I just read this article on Slate that says we're wrong to think breastmilk provides antibody protection that absorbs into the blood.
This article really made me mad, and it didn't seem all that well researched, but I'm wondering if I'm just reacting this way because I don't want to believe it. Any thoughts/reaction/links?

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It doesn't bug me much.

He's just saying the antibodies don't absorb into the blood...well maybe nature didn't intend for them to be absorbed into the blood, in which case I ask, what is his point? The MM still *has* antibodies; he doesn't seem to disagree with that.
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I guess one of the things that bothered me even more is how he glosses over other benefits of breastmilk and in my opinion seems to suggest it's all just socioeconomic factors. And his conclusion that really women should just do whatever makes them happier seems to suggest that there's really not much difference.
It's kind of a strange article. He's not anti-BF, but he doesn't seem to think it's that important in the industrialized nations. Total forgets all the other benifits of BM of FF - like nutrition, and reactions to dairy/soy based formulas. According to him, all the benifits to baby & mother from extended bfing are not scientifically valid. Which is sad. Probably not someone I would want for my Pediatrician.

i spoke to my LLL leader on saturday about this article; she is in training to become a lactation consultant and she spoke about this article with her class. she said essentially that it is true what he puts forth in the article, however, in MINUTE amounts, the antibodies do actually get absorbed by the baby. her point was that it may only TAKE minute amounts to provide the protection the baby needs. but, yeah, she concurred that essentially the guy is not getting his facts wrong.

i am one of those who is inclined to believe that socioeconomic factors actually play much larger role than i had originally considered. i would just say that you can't rule SE factors out, at least in western society. i mean, just case in point, the united states does not actually have the highest standard of living - as measured by a bunch of defined factors - of the western world (far from it, actually) nor the lowest infant mortality rate, and infant mortality tends to be indirectly proportionate to S.O.L., which i would imagine also correlates with breastfeeding to at least some degree (ie - scandinavian countries have very high S.O.L. and very high breastfeeding rates, as well as very low infant mortality).

obviously you cannot draw a direct link between bfing rates and infant mortality, since in some developing countries where bfing rates may be very high, so are infant mortality rates. i mean, bfing HELPS TREMENDOUSLY but it is not the only factor. SE status and S.O.L definitely contribute.

nursing is great, really wonderful, for about a million different reasons. i didn't immediately think it was a big waste of my time just because i learned that antibodies weren't absorbed in massive quantities. did you?
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"nursing is great, really wonderful, for about a million different reasons. i didn't immediately think it was a big waste of my time just because i learned that antibodies weren't absorbed in massive quantities. did you?"

Yeah, actually I did. I was thinking about weaning asap.

Snarkiness aside, of course not, and I certainly never said that SE factors/S.O.L. mean nothing. I was just irritated by his assumption that they just might be everything
I remember reading somewhere (I read a ton on BFing when I was expecting DS1) that there was a blind study done in the UK offering pumped breastmilk to NICU babies, while the control group was given formula. No one knew which children were given which nutrition. The results were staggering - not just lower infections and side effects, but long term developmental and intellectual differences.

And that was with pumped milk, only for a certain period of time (I don't remember how long - a month or two?).

So that to me pretty much disproves the socioeconomic factors.

As far as the article goes, I am always a bit suspicious of any article that doesn't quote studies... but makes conclusions about scientific facts.
Strange article - strikes me as just wanting to be controversial. He concludes with "Fortunately, the majority of mothers enjoy nursing." So I guess he's writing this article so that minority of mothers who don't enjoy nursing don't feel guilty?? Ah the author probably just had to come up with a breastfeeding topic to write about and everything else had been done already.

Kinda strikes me as strange how mothers can be made to feel guilty for so many things (gee daycare, working, protecting their kids, not protecting their kids etc etc etc) yet it's totally taboo to make them feel guilty about not breastfeeding.

I've always heard that the immune system starts in the gut. So maternal antibodies in the gut sounds good to me.
I don't buy it. I don't buy it one bit. I clicked on some of those links and there was no medical evidence to back it up. And IMNSHO, you can't compare humans to any other mammal.........even monkeys. Sure we share 98% of the same DNA as them, but look at how different that 2% makes us. And who knows how much a "minute" amount is. Maybe it's just enough to ward baby off from infection. I hate editorials like this. Either crap or get off the pot!
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