Take a hard look at the economic
by Susan E. Burger
April 07, 2005
James K. Glassman's article about WHO's excesses is remarkably
ill-researched. He confuses correlation with causality and gets
the direction of correlation exactly wrong. As a nutritional
epidemiologist, there is no other area that has been more documented
that the increase in infant mortality that occurs with use of
breast milk substitutes in comparison to breast milk. The evidence
is overwhelming. This is not just the case for third world infants,
but a recent study showed a 20% lower mortality rate among breastfed
infants than among those who were fed substitutes in the UNITED
STATES after taking into account socio-economic differences.
Back in the 1930s, death rates in Chicago among formula-fed
infants were higher than those in most third world countries
today. And, I'm sure my Belgian colleagues could supply Mr.
Glassman with the increased death rates among the unfortunate
infants in Belgium who are not fully breastfed and the work time
lost from those women having to spend time visiting the pediatrician
for preventable ear infections. Then, take a simple case of
Necrotizing enterocolotis, which can run into the hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Does Mr. Glassman understand that this
is entirely preventable by giving premature infants breast milk
Moreover, he also gets a little
confused about women's work loads in third world countries and
he clear has little experience with their daily activities.
The average amount of time to sterilize bottles on a daily basis
is 150 minutes. Hardly a time saving activity. In many third
world areas, this is compounded by the time it takes to get the
water to begin with. Not everyone has tap water readily at hand.
Some women would even have to spend additional time collecting
the firewood to be able to sterilize the water. Another loss
of time. In Africa, where other body parts are much more valued
for their sexual appeal than the breast, women can simply put
the baby in the sling and work quite fine without interruption.
So, no time loss for breastfeeding and quite a bit of time saved
from visiting doctors, collecting firewood, collecting water,
and sterilizing those bottles.
I think Mr. Glassman needs
to take a hard look at the economic reality. His numbers just
do not add up.
Susan E. Burger, PhD, MHS,
New York - USA
(P.S. I happen to be successfully
at running my own business and did not find that breastfeeding
interfered in the least with pursuing my business goals).
Time for Congress to get serious about
WHO's excesses by James
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