Breast milk, known as liquid gold, is the best food for babies in their early months of life. It has many advantages and cannot be substituted for anything else. In the contemporary world, infant formula is prepared with the aim of imitating breast milk. However, it can never yield similar benefits to breast milk. Certain unavoidable situations lead to the use of formula milk, for instance, illness. In the U.S., out of the 75% breastfeed babies, only 13% are exclusively breastfeeding (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).
We will write a custom Critical Writing on Breastfeeding and Its Benefits for Babies specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Most mothers seem not to understand the health and environmental dangers associated with the use of formula milk. Various concerns have been raised about the use of formula milk. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the reasons why breast milk will forever remain the best option as highlighted in this paper.
Infant formula is available in either liquid or powdered form. Mothers fail to breastfeed due to various reasons. To begin with, mothers lack education before lactation. Some mothers may not fully understand the breastfeeding process in terms of maternal nutrition, challenges associated with breastfeeding and how to redress them, and the ideal duration of breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother requires family and social support that is often lacking due to associated cultural and societal norms.
Some working women also lack structural support since most workplaces do not provide mothers with environments that encourage breastfeeding (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Some sicknesses prevent a mother from breastfeeding due to accompanying negative consequences on the infant (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).
The use of the formula is associated with some poor health consequences such as necrotizing, type 2 diabetes, lower respiratory infections, and obesity. All these could otherwise be prevented by exclusive breastfeeding for six months (Office on Women’s Health, 2013). Research has shown that in 90% of families that did exclusive breastfeeding, almost 1000 infants’ lives were saved. Antibodies present in breast milk are not present in formula milk; hence, no protection is derived from the latter. Good health is associated with less medical costs and increased productivity. Breastfeeding mothers will not stay away from work to take off their sick infants. Breastfeeding also means a cleaner environment; less plastic waste will be produced. Breastfeeding is cheap and will save on costs that could be used in other ways.
The powdered formula requires reconstitution with water, and there is a high likelihood of contamination if the right cautionary measures are not observed. The result is the occurrence of foodborne illnesses that mainly affect children due to their underdeveloped immune system (“Baby Food,” 2014). Diarrhea is a major cause of child mortality, and its main cause is poor hygiene and sanitation, for example, the use of contaminated water and dirty hands. Also, the current use of formulas predisposes children to toxic components such as perchlorate, whose effects may not be realized immediately (Environment Working Group, 2014a).
Intriguing insight proves that a chemical compound known as bisphenol A (BPA) can be leached out from the baby bottles, the means through which formula milk is consumed. Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor that has similar response effects as estrogen hormone. BPA binds with estrogen receptors, causing a hormonal imbalance. The effect of this is witnessed by the occurrence of some cancers, fertility dysfunction, obesity, diabetes and a dysfunctional immune system (The Work Group for Safe Markets, 2009).
BPA is a polymer and a major element in the production of food packaging materials. Some water sources have been found to contain BPA. When this contaminated water is used to prepare formula, then an infant ingests the BPA. Children are more vulnerable to the effects of bisphenol A due to their physiological nature. Children experience rapid growth and development, and any hormonal imbalance is detrimental to their growth and general health. Studies have shown that formulas packaged in metallic containers predispose children to higher levels of BPA compared to those in plastic containers (Environment Working Group, 2014b).
Formula milk is available in plastic and metallic containers that are non-biodegradable. Although these containers can be recycled, most of them are disposed of in the same way as domestic waste, in landfills. This damages the natural ecosystem because the chemical compounds in these containers may leak into the soil posing a threat to the surrounding living organisms. The energy that could otherwise be utilized for more economically productive ways is spent on manufacturing and transportation of formula milk as well as in the recycling of containers (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2011).
There is no reasonable doubt that breastfeeding remains the gold standard. If efforts to promote breastfeeding continue to be thwarted by preventable factors such as ignorance and lack of support, then the effects of formula milk on the environment will continue to manifest. Wildlife will be dilapidated, and rates of fatal diseases such as cancer will increase. As the population continues to grow, there will be more production of formula. Subsequently, more energy will be required to manufacture more formula, and cases of chronic illnesses will rise (Ecofriendlyfood, 2010).
Baby Food and Infant Formula. (2014). Foodsafety.gov. Web.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Breastfeeding Report Card. Web.
Ecofriendlyfood. (2010). Why breastfeeding is the best choice for the environment. Web.
Environment Working Group. (2014a). EWG’s Guide to Infant Formula and Baby Bottles. Web.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Environment Working Group. (2014b). Toxic Plastics Chemical in Infant Formula. Web.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2011). The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Web.
Office on Women’s Health. (2013). Breastfeeding. Web.
The Work Group for Safe Markets. (2009). Baby’s toxic bottle: Bisphenol A leaching from popular baby bottles. Web.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. BREASTFEEDING MEDICINE, 6(1). Web.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2010). Bisphenol A Action Plan. Web.