Wednesday 22 July 2009

More Government Advice Found To Be…

…not worth the paper it’s written on?
The benefits of breastfeeding have been greatly exaggerated, according to a leading expert.

Michael Kramer, a professor of paediatrics, claimed that much of the information used to persuade new mothers to breastfeed was either wrong or out-of-date.
Whoops! So much for ‘settled science’…
Professor Kramer, who has spent more than 20 years studying the subject and been an adviser to the World Health Organisation and Unicef, believes a significant amount of evidence behind the claims is flawed.
Really? Which bits?
NHS leaflets given to pregnant women and new mothers claim that breastfeeding protects against obesity, allergies, asthma and diabetes.

Professor Kramer's own work has failed to demonstrate that breastfeeding protects against asthma, allergies or childhood obesity.
Oh, dear. This will throw a spanner in the works of all the ‘breast is best’ advocates.

It appears that some of the benefits observed and outlined in government advice and the glossy magazines favoured by yummy mummies is based on correlation, rather than causation:
However the professor claims that many of the supposed advantages can be explained by differences in lifestyle, with women who breastfeed being more likely to pass their healthy habits on to their family.

'There is very little evidence that it reduces the risk of leukaemia, lymphoma, bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

'I don't favour overselling the evidence - we should not be conveying false information.
'I think some of the advice promulgated on obesity or allergies is false information.'
Can we call the ASA about it then?

He isn’t going to wait around to be accused of being in the pockets of the baby-formula companies – he has some criticism for them too:
He said the confusion was being exacerbated by competition between the formula milk industry and the breastfeeding lobby. Doctors, unwilling to side with big business, are being 'brainwashed' by those in favour of taking a natural approach.

'The formula milk industry jumps on every piece of equivocal evidence,' he said.

'But the breastfeeding lobby have a way of ignoring the evidence. Both sides are not being very scientific.'
Sounds a lot like the ‘anthropogenic global warming’ crowd, doesn’t it?

And like them, the government is treating this new evidence by sticking its fingers in its ears and saying ‘La la la la I can’t hear you…’:
A spokesman added: 'The Government is fully committed to the promotion and support of breastfeeding, as it is the best form of nutrition providing all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of life.

'Our ambition is to encourage and support more and more mothers to initiate and continue breastfeeding, and particularly to support mothers belonging to the disadvantaged groups.'
Even though those groups pose more of a lifestyle risk than a bottle-feeding one to their children?
Jacque Gerrard, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'Breastfeeding is the right way to produce healthy babies.'
Or, to translate: ‘Sod the new evidence, we’ve printed all these leaflets now…’


Sue said...

Why don't they just keep their noses out and let women decide for themselves? Not all women want or can breastfeed.

How much are all these stupid studies and leaflets costing the taxpayer?

I found health visitors can sometimes try to bully young new mums into it.

My daughter was in tears after being bullied. Her baby had a screaming fit after every feed.

It was just fortunate that I had had the same experience with her, when she was born.

We discovered years later, that she was lactose intolerant (in those days the condition hadn't been widely recognised)..

She went to the chemist, got lactose free milk and the baby has been thriving ever since.. but, it wasn't the health visitor or Doctor that helped her.

It was her mum!!!

Anonymous said...

Clearly the government does not have shares in companies producing baby milk formulae, otherwise breasts would be outlawed.

Rob said...

"much of the information used to persuade new mothers to breastfeed was either wrong or out-of-date."

How does a scientific study become "out-of-date"?

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


JuliaM said...

"Why don't they just keep their noses out and let women decide for themselves?"

Indeed. On the 'Jeremy Vine' show this afternoon, a lady from Glasgow was recounting how she'd asked to redeem her Boots points for some formula, and the sachier had told her she couldn't, because 'she should be breast feeding'!

She got an apology from Boots, but good grief! What sort of a society are we becoming, where a shop assistant feels free to tell a customer what she should or should not do with her life?

"How does a scientific study become "out-of-date"?"

Good point. I presume this is just a way of saying that it didn't reflect current scientific thinking...

"I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog."

You're welcome, nice to have you aboard! ;)