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Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Do toddlers still need to be given formula milk?! (a.k.a Breastmilk v. Formula)
Recently, the issue of the hazards of cow's milk (including formula) cropped up in my peer counselor group and another local mother's group I'm part of. One of the moms was worried about the effects of formula milk (or hormonized cow's milk, as she calls it) that her daughter was taking. Her pediatrician had patients who were menstruating at 4 and 7 years old - and the pediatrician thought it was because of the milk they were taking (the mom required the child to take 8 glasses to make up for the low food intake). Meanwhile, another mom (who continued to breastfeeding her 18 month old baby - yay! :D) was worried that her toddler was not getting all the required vitamins and minerals - she had been bombarded with the commercials for formula milk (and we have plenty!! DHA? ARA? +7 IQ points?).
During the Milk Code Forum I attended last Saturday, one of the presenters, Judy, had a terrific presentation on the story of milk. She emphasized that because of the great demand for milk, dairy farmers are doing everything to boost their cows' milk production - by adding hormones which for sure eventually ends up in the milk that we drink. Judy also shared that even if companies say that they've tested the milk for contaminants and did not find any, there are other contaminants not being tested or detected! There are about 60 or more chemicals/medicines injected into cows but only the presence of 6 (in the end-milk product) is being tested. And this is only for the regular milk! Formula milk undergoes more processing for it to be converted into milk "suitable" for babies. To mimic breast milk, milk companies then add synthetic DHA and ARA (from cultured algae, etc.) to the powdered milk. The formula milk is exposed to more contamination risks (BPA, melamine, salmonella, etc.) during the processing, canning and preparation process. No wonder our generation's hormones are totally whacked out - with menstruation even starting at age 4!!! In my response to the breastfeeding toddler's mom, I shared how milk companies earn P42B from Filipino consumers which is why they spend P1B in marketing their products. I got those figures during the Milk Code Forum from Nanay Ines of Arugaan. Obviously, each milk company wants to get the biggest chunk of that P42B pie - which is why they are aggressively (and unethically) marketing their products. With the passage of the Milk Code's revised rules and regulations, milk companies recognized that they can no longer actively market products targeted for babies below 1 year old, to preserve their "good image". The superiority of breast milk of formula has been settled and established. Detailed comparisons are available here and here. There is even a downloadable brochure of stacked blocks which show how far away formula milk is from breast milk, particularly in terms of nutritional content. So, they directed their attention to older babies.