Saturday, March 27, 2010

Headlines can misinform....

As we all know, folks believe what they read, especially if it agrees with what they want to be true. So when a headline that states "Long-Term Breast-Feeding Tied to More Aggressive Cancers" (which, by the way, I could not find on PubMed to read critically), I am concerned.

In fact, in this news coverage, there is little comment on the fact that Dr S Butt reports on a subgroup representing only about 3.6% of the entire sample. Without reading the study, one must wonder why this small percent chose to feed their children so differently than their fellow Swedes. When dealing with a tiny subgroup such at this, it is vital to explore this question. We often see odd findings in outliers in large study populations. For example, are these folks with family histories of breast cancer? Are they eating a different diet or living in a different area from the vast majority? Are they an ethnic subgrouping? And, as the researchers note, it could be that women who breastfeed long have such aggressive cancers (rather than having more and other cancers) but do they do better with them?

Without the answers to these questions, such findings are only useful as an idea for further exploration, but should not be presented to the public in such a manner to be potentially misunderstood and misleading.

We all thank that site for all they do to help keep the public informed - while we also add a word of caution...

Friday, March 05, 2010

Robert Wood Johnson acknowledges life before age 2 y!

Study Finds Early Childhood Links to Disparities in Obesity Rates
New research reveals surprising facts about simple behaviors that may alter a child's health legacy for life. In addition, Elsie Taveras, M.D., M.P. H., lead author of the study, found that national efforts to address the problem may be missing the most important period - before age 2...

Thank you, RWJF, for your recognition of the importance of the first two years of life as a vital time for intervention to ensure later health and nutritional status. With thanks to Elsie Taveras for this particular approach, the issue, i.e., that the first two years is a vital component of later health and nutrition status, has been demonstrated for years now using a variety of study designs, and has been widely published. Research and meta-analyses on early infant feeding show that formula feeding and/or lack of exclusive breastfeeding are associated with later overweight. Whether it has to do with recognition of satiety, or hormonal influences or ability of the body to handle foods, or all compounded by cultural and societal pressures, the outcome is constant. AND we know what to do to enable change among those who care for this age group. The literature includes many successful interventions.

Ann Conlon-Smith notes that breastfeeding is indeed the great equalizer - no matter what your background, you have the opportunity to give your children the best start on life. Thanks, Ann, this is so true. Hmmm, but here,unfortunately, it is true UNLESS your economic situation or your family or your hospital or your workplace undermines or disempowers you. So lets rally and ensure that each mother has social and economic support to succeed with what is best for her and for her child.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

NWA testifies to the importance of the Ten Steps and Code

The National WIC Association's Kiran Saluja, Deputy Director of PHFE WIC, was asked to testify about WIC and breastfeeding issues before the House Committee on Education and Labor, chaired by WIC Champion George Miller (D-Concord) Tuesday, March 2, 2010, to discuss federal child nutrition programs - WIC, child care food, and school meals - that are up for Reauthorization.

She noted that an important place to start to help WIC succeed in its breastfeeding support and promotion efforts would be to fix the breastfeeding - broken hospitals!

"While I recognize this may be beyond the purview of this Committee, I am compelled to ask you to work collaboratively with your colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means Committee to pass legislation that requires that all hospitals that receive Medicaid funds adhere, at a minimum, to a set of model policies that do not sabotage breastfeeding, and at best initiate steps to become a Baby Friendly Hospital.... another important way to help WIC promote and support breastfeeding would be for the Committee in collaboration with your partners in Congress to make a determined effort to eliminate or sharply curb the blatant direct marketing of infant formula, which violates the WHO code and targets vulnerable low income women of color."

Here in North Carolina, CGBI is working with many partners to further The Ten Steps that are the essence of the Baby Friendly Hospital approach across the state, in partnership with the State Department of Public Health, and are planning a interstate working meeting on this issue. In addition, we are continuing to raise the issue of the dangers to health of direct marketing of commercial formula.

Please support these efforts in any way you can.