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Health & Baby

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2 Researchers Challenge Breastfeeding Campaign

Say Moms Who Choose Bottle-Feeding Made to Feel Inadequate

Attitudes Toward Breastfeeding continued...

Along with University of Kent colleague Ellie Lee, PhD, Furedi surveyed roughly 500 new moms about their attitudes toward breastfeeding. A total of 63% responded that a woman should breastfeed if possible, but roughly the same number stated that supplementing breastfeedings with formula feedings was necessary on occasion.

Less than a third (29%) of the women who intended to breastfeed exclusively were doing so by the time their baby was 6 months old.

Of the women who fed their babies formula during this time, 32% expressed a sense of failure about not breastfeeding, 48% said they were not certain they were doing the right thing, and 23% were worried about what their health care provider would say.

And one in five surveyed moms worried that feeding their baby formula during their first six months of life would have a negative impact on their future health.

Lee tells WebMD that many of the moms in the survey worried that feeding their babies formula would increase their risk for developing conditions such as asthma and eczema. Multiple studies have shown the benefits that breastfeeding has to infants, especially in developing countries. But Lee says that doesn't necessarily mean that formula-fed babies are at high risk.

What has happened, she says, is that a perfectly reasonable and evidence-based argument regarding the health advantages of breast milk has gotten turned into an argument that formula milk is intrinsically bad.

Furedi agrees that, all things being equal, breastfeeding is better for babies than bottle-feeding. But he says moms who chose bottle-feeding for whatever reason should not be intimidated by what others think.

"This is a choice that a woman should make based on her own circumstances. It is not one that society should make for her," he says.

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