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Tuesday 25th October 2016

A smart drug called breast milk

19th June 2008

Writing in The Independent, Johann Hari makes it perfectly clear that breast is best.


Women are often stigmatised for breastfeeding their babies as large corporations continue to persuade mums to offer their offspring powdered milk instead.

But breast milk - which is free - could save 13% of all babies who currently die and reduces the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, leukaemia, asthma or obesity. It’s good for the mother too, reducing a risk of osteoporosis and ovarian cancer.

Yet only Belgium has a worse record on breastfeeding than Britain, where 24% of babies are never breastfeed and after six weeks the majority are on formula. The World Health Organisation says only 1% of women can’t breastfeed but according to the Department of Health 90% have stopped at six weeks with many women saying that is driven by their need to return to work.

Government minister Harriet Harman has helped by including the legal right to breastfeed in public in the new Equalities Bill.

But another reason for the high fall-off rate is due to companies trying to divert mums away from breastfeeding and to formula milk despite the fact that higher rates of breastfeeding could save the NHS millions in prevention of disease such as gastroenteritis.

A third of mums also think baby formula is as good as, or even better, than breast milk. In the developing world mums are now abandoning their free, healthy breast milk and spending money on formula at a time that the WHO calculates 1.3 million babies die annual because they are not breastfed.

This dodgy marketing needs to be banned today.


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