It seems like every week another study touting the benefits of breastfed babies over formula babies comes out to agitate the mommy wars. Well, no, the studies probably aren't trying to do that. But we get it, scientific community, we get it. Breastfed babies are better, 'kay? They're smarter, they're more popular (later in life), and it saves 830,000 babies' lives a year. Breastfeeding is even supposed to lower your risk of cancer. But in case you needed any more proof that "breast is best," here comes a study that says formula-fed babies might be more susceptible to chronic disease.
A study at the UC Davis Department of Nutrition says that:
Formula-fed infants experience metabolic stress that could make them more susceptible than breast-fed infants to a wide range of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems, and cardiovascular disease.
Apparently formula-fed infants grow larger faster than breastfed babies, which sounds great, you want your baby to grow. But growing too fast can mean problems. Said the lead researcher:
You want your baby to grow, of course, but growing too quickly is not such a good thing.
In the study, after just four weeks, formula-fed babies (baby monkeys that is, cause monkeys were used in the study) were larger; had "distinct bacterial communities in their gut" (ew!); had higher insulin levels; and processed amino acids differently.
Says one of the buzzkill biochemists who did the study:
Our findings support the contention that infant feeding practice profoundly influences metabolism in developing infants and may be the link between early feeding and the development of metabolic disease later in life.
Yikes. Well, I think we all know breast milk is, as the researcher puts it, "excellent source of nutrition that can't be duplicated." But that doesn't mean that moms who feed formula aren't doing the best they can and they shouldn't be shamed.
I have one friend who simply was NOT producing enough milk for her baby, and needed to supplement with formula. She tried everything. What exactly was she supposed to do?
Sometimes I think these studies get out of hand. I understand the need for them -- but I know of one guy, in his 30s, who still holds it against his mom that she didn't breastfeed! Dude, get over it.
But for moms who are on the fence about it, they should really do their research and give it the best try they can.
Do you breast or formula feed?
Image via Daquella Manera/Flickr