Thursday, December 29, 2011
Protecting babies from harm
First and foremost, I am a staunch lactavist. Breastmilk is always better than formula. Both are means of nutrition but breastmilk is a balanced diet and formula is a Happy Meal with a Flintstone's vitamin on the side. There's really no comparison. But, unfortunately, the best isn't always possible, and so there is a substitute. I myself had to formula feed my daughters. I couldn't continue breastfeeding (for life reasons, not health) and they had to eat. I understand that not every baby will be breastfed. Life isn't perfect.
I was inspired to write this post because a third baby has contracted the bacteria C. sakazakii. The first baby, a 10 day old little boy died. The second baby, a little girl from Illinois, also died. This is a bacteria found in powdered milk based formula. I emphasize the powered part because that is very important to understand.
Powdered formula is not a sterile product. It says so on the can. The nature of it precludes sterilization. I don’t care how much you boil the water, the formula will never be sterile. Concentrate and ready-to-feed, on the other hand are sterile. For that reason, I urge any parent who uses infant formula to use the concentrate or ready-to-feed formula. Yes, it costs more, but for at least the first couple months, when baby’s immune system is so raw and immature, take that precaution. That couple of dollars could save your baby’s life.
C. sakazakii is super scary. It can cause meningitis and necrotizing enterocolitis (Goggle 'em). These are much worse in sick babies and preemies. They are much more likely to die. Furthermore, it can survive 2 years in infected formula. We have known about this link for a very long time. In fact, the FDA issued a warning about it in 2002. Though, it's relatively rare, it is still a scary, scary thing.
Or, for as long as you can-even if it’s only for that six weeks you have off work, even if it’s only two weeks-breastfeed your baby. Breastmilk provides antibodies that protect your baby from getting sick. I was able to breastfeed my daughters 4 and 7 months exclusively, so they had an opportunity to develop strong immune systems. Additionally, neither of them drank powdered, milk based formula (one was on Alimentum concentrate as there was no powdered form back then, and the other was on soy). Plus, they were both full term, healthy babies that were not hospitalized. My babies were fortunately never at risk.
Mama, protect those babies!
If you formula feed, what kind of formula do you use? Are you concerned about C. sakazakii bacteria?