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Tuesday, May 29, 2007Whew! It was a long holiday weekend and I enjoyed some much needed time offline (two whole days, can you even imagine?!) That said, it also means that I missed out on posting a TON of Lactivist related news, so here we go with a rapid fire approach to the latest and greatest breastfeeding news...
Chemical Poisons, Breastfeeding and Brain Development
There is a second probable contributor to the problem and that's the increased rate of nursing and increased rate of duration of nursing in American populations. So over the past 30 years for very good reasons, for the health of infants, more and more mothers are nursing their babies. We have gone from a nursing rate of about 25 percent roughly a quarter of babies being nursed by their mothers to about 75 percent. The average duration that mothers nurse their infants now is about twice as great as it was 30 years ago. This is a positive and good and healthy thing. The problem is that these chemicals are concentrated in breast milk at a level of about six fold as they are in regular body tissues. Because they are concentrated in fat, in a sense the mother is concentrating these poisons and delivering them in relatively high dose levels to infants.
What I'll find interesting is to see how it will get spun if it makes the mainstream news... Will it be that women should avoid breastfeeding because of this, or that the risks of formula still outweigh the risks of these chemicals, or that we need to clear these chemicals from the environment? (Thanks to Aruni for this one.)
Gates Foundation Gives Glaser Foundation $9.7M for Research on Pediatric HIV Vaccines; Research To Focus on Breast-Feeding Infants
Researchers have found that an effective vaccine, provided shortly after birth, would not only protect an infant from contracting HIV while breast-feeding but also could offer long-term or even life-long immunity from the virus, according to the Glaser Foundation. The protective vaccine then would allow HIV-positive mothers to safely breast-feed for an extended period of time, providing infants in resource-poor settings with nutritional and basic health benefits.
Wow! Absolutely outstanding! While here in the United States, passing up breastfeeding for the relative safety of formula isn't always a tough call for HIV positive mothers, it's a life or death choice in third world nations that lack clean water supplies. The idea that medical advances are being made that would allow mothers to breastfeed without fear of passing HIV is just wonderful. Kudos to Bill Gates for funding this type of research!
HBCP Will Stop Periods
The Food and Drug Administration backed continuous use of the pill, Lybrel, which is manufactured by Wyeth. Taken daily it can halt a woman's menstrual periods indefinitely, as well as prevent pregnancies. But it may be difficult for the women to recognise if they have become pregnant because Lybrel users will not have regular periods.
Not being a fan of hormonal birth control, (I still blame it for sending my body into anti-ovulation insanity which necessitated fertility drugs for me to get pregnant with Elnora) I wouldn't be tempted by this...but if I was, the section that notes that HALF of the women in the drug trials dropped out "citing irregular and unscheduled bleeding" would have been enough to make me think twice. (Thanks Melissa!)
HIV in breastmilk killed by flash-heating, new study finds
A simple method of flash-heating breast milk infected with HIV successfully inactivated the free-floating virus, according to a new study led by researchers at the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California. Notably, the technique - heating a glass jar of expressed breast milk in a pan of water over a flame or single burner - can be easily applied in the homes of mothers in resource-poor communities.
Wow, more great news on the breastfeeding and HIV front. It is estimated that more than 40% of the 700K children who get infected with HIV each year have contracted it from extended breastfeeding. As I mentioned above, breast or formula is not an easy choice in countries where children die from simple cases of diarrhea. This simple method could mean a huge life and death difference in the developing world. (Thanks Julia!)
Midwives in Demand in Canada
Ten midwives might bring in a caseload equal to that of two obstetricians. But their patient-centered personal care, including 45-minute appointments and continuous emotional support, also means clients tend to leave hospital more quickly, require fewer medical interventions, and receive attentive prenatal and postnatal care. All of which translate to lower costs for the health care system. They are also the only regulated professionals to accommodate home births.
The article states that 40% of women who wish to use midwives are unable to due to lack of availability. Ahh...how I dream of the day that I read an article and see attitudes about midwifery like that here in Ohio! In fact, there's a movement afoot right now in the Ohio legislature to make home birth midwifery illegal, but I'll cover more of that in an upcoming post. (Thanks for sending this Judy!)