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Thread: Early limited formula (ELF) study

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Early limited formula (ELF) study

    I'm glad this was brought up here. I was trying to figure out how to bring it up here myself because I was sure mothers were seeing the breathless and misleading headlines about the study.

    I see two issues. one that such a small study with so many problems was published in pediatrics. But okay.
    Far worse is the way it was reported in the media. One headline said 'good news for mothers.' Why would the effects of very limited supplementation be good or bad news for mothers? The assumption is that breast-feeding is some horrendous ordeal, and any chance to feed your baby another way take it! This of course plays right into the agenda of the formula companies, who for years have been promoting the idea that breast-feeding is 'best' but extremely difficult and that mothers who nurse are really kind of martyrs.

    The babies in the supplemented group were given teeny tiny feedings via syringe of a hypoallergenic formula. No one has ever said that this type of appropriate (if needed ) supplementation is harmful to breast-feeding duration! In fact many lactation consultants have noted that supplementation when done appropriately is helpful. What is harmful is inappropriate over supplementation. We have far too much inappropriate over supplementation happening in hospitals. And of course by mothers who see bottles of 2-4 ounces given to teeny tiny new born babies and think that is a normal feeding, and you don't trust their bodies to make enough milk.

    I suspect that seeing how small the supplements were gave the mothers of the supplemented infants a visual of how tiny a normal feed actually is for a brand-new born. That alone may have given them more confidence in breast-feeding.
    I wonder if a study that showed that giving babies this size and appropriate supplements of donated breast milk would have been trumpeted from the mountaintop the way this one was. Somehow I doubt it.
    You're not paranoid if they are really out to get you. Right?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Early limited formula (ELF) study

    I agree, I feel like the reason this small, potentially flawed study was pounced on by the media is that there are so many who are looking for ANY reason to say, "see? Formula is not that bad!" I have read several articles along these lines, I'm sure others have too. And now this study will presumably be cited amongst those arguing that there is too much pressure on mothers to breastfeed, that the campaign against formula is ridiculous, etc.

  3. #13

    Default Re: Early limited formula (ELF) study

    Nancy Mohrbacher nails it, IMO:

    ... what was noteworthy to me was that the mothers in the intervention group were taught to supplement their newborns with biologically appropriate feeding volumes consistent with the recommendations of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine....

    ...My take-away message from this study is that any mother who supplements her newborn (whether with expressed milk, donor milk, or formula) should learn the appropriate amount to feed so she can prevent the kind of rampant oversupplementation that undermines breastfeeding and increases later risk of obesity.

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