Wait a minute……one poorly done study is not enough to change practice.
Currently, news media are buzzing about the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association about breastfeeding and obesity, ”Effects of Promoting Longer-term and Exclusive Breastfeeding on Adiposity and Insulin-like Growth Factor-I at Age 11.5 Years A Randomized Trial” (Martin et al. JAMA. 2013;309(10):1005-1013.) The news is heralded, that breastfeeding doesn’t protect against obesity. Here is just one of many blog posts spreading the news:
The conclusion of the Martin study leads a reader to believe that “population strategies to increase the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding are unlikely to curb the obesity epidemic.”
What about all the studies showing that non-human milks lack at least 4 human appetite regulating hormones?
What about the studies showing that babies learn to eat just enough as a result of controlling their intake during breastfeeding? You can’t make a baby take in more milk than it wants by breastfeeding. On the other hand, Dr. Ruth Lawrence has said, “We tend to overfeed babies when we bottle-feed them.” One study looking at weight gain in babies found that bottle-feeding (whether human milk or infant formula was in the bottle) led to a greater weight gain than in the breastfed baby.
What about the global obesity epidemic that parallels the increase in artificial feeding?
What about looking at the study closely?
In table 1 of the Martin study we see that the duration of exclusive breastfeeding was follows:
Duration: Intervention group: Control Group:
Less than 3 months 54.6% 93.0%
3 to less than 6 months 25.5% 25.2%
> 6 months 6.5% 0.7%
The intervention group is the group where breastfeeding was encouraged and supported; the control group is the group where folks did what they always did about infant feeding.
Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the recommendation of every public health and medical organization in the world. This is the duration associated with the best health outcomes for babies. According to the Martin study, very few babies were breastfed according to current recommendations.
More than half the babies in the study started other foods and drinks at younger than 3 months of age.How can breastfeeding work its wonders if it isn’t done in the way associated with the best health outcomes?
The benefits of breastfeeding are dose dependent.
Now the question becomes, “why is a study like this being trumpeted around the world?”
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?