Media Release:
Breastfeeding Provides Food Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRAssociate at llli.org (847) 519-7730, Ext. 217.
Press Release for your local media

(Schaumburg, IL, USA) (December 2008) La Leche League International wants to reassure families who are concerned that formula in the United States may be tainted by the chemical melamine or who are struggling to afford formula during poor economic times that relactation is possible.

La Leche League International (LLLI) suggests that mothers with infants who are being given formula consider relactating to avoid possible exposure to tainted formula, improperly prepared formula and to protect their ability to nourish infants in case of disaster.

Relactation can be accomplished even when little or no breastfeeding has occurred. It does require determination from and support for the mother. LLLI offers a variety of resources for women who would like to relactate. Relactation can be established even several months after birth or by mothers who adopt.

Improperly prepared formula can cause water intoxication in infants which can cause death. Parents who add too much water to formula to stretch their food budget harm their children. Money spent on formula can instead be used for food for the rest of the family. There are indications that the chemical melamine has been found in several brands of infant formula. Melamine is a chemical meant to be used as a binding agent and is also an ingredient in fertilizer. Melamine artificially increases the protein profile of milk and can cause kidney diseases and death. It is unclear what the status is of various infant foods in the United States, but several consumer groups have called for an investigation.

Although health professionals around the world advise breastfeeding as the best choice, mothers who choose to feed formula to their babies often do so believing that they are providing the best for their children. Marketing messages from formula manufacturers promote the belief that formula is equal or superior to human milk. These marketing tactics are prevalent even in developing countries where it is often difficult to properly purchase, prepare and store human milk substitutes. Beliefs in the superiority of human milk substitutes can become pervasive, resulting in mothers finding little or no support for their desire to breastfeed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million children die every year because they are not breastfed. WHO estimates that no more than 40% of infants worldwide are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. A cornerstone of WHO’s and UNICEF’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding is the aim that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. After six months, it is recommended that breastfeeding be continued along with the introduction of locally available foods. For the first year of life and beyond, human milk provides nutrition and protects infants from disease. Research has demonstrated that the nutritional value of breastmilk, specifically the fat and energy content, continues well beyond the first year. There are many reasons that women choose not to breastfeed, including some medical conditions which are contraindications to breastfeeding. However, in the absence of such contraindications, providing women with information and support to be able to breastfeed is important.

Pregnant mothers need to know that while breastfeeding is natural, it is a learned behavior. Although many mothers and babies begin breastfeeding and continue on with no problems, this is not always the case. Mothers can find information to help them with their difficulties by contacting a La Leche League Leader or attending a La Leche League meeting.

Women in both affluent and developing countries need to have information and support to breastfeed their babies. Since 1956, LLLI has been offering this information and support. Mother-to-mother support groups now exist in almost 70 countries. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, published by LLLI, has sold over two million copies. LLLI’s web site reaches millions of women a year. For more information about breastfeeding or to locate a support group in your area, visit the LLLI web site at www.llli.org. The breastfeeding community throughout the United States has access to a 24 hour toll free helpline service by calling 1-877-4-LALECHE (1-877-452-5324).