Reaction to the Ohio breastfeeding study

The recent breastfeeding study comparing siblings within families is all over the news lately, and people are interpreting it as that there are no differences between breastfeeding and formula feeding babies. I know that some women can’t or don’t have the support to breastfeed, and everyone is entitled to their own decisions. However, while I’m not a medical doctor I have a doctoral research degree and just wanted to point out some issues with the study that are getting overlooked.

These are the variables they included:

Child’s Physical health:

  • body mass index (BMI)
  • obesity
  • asthma

Behavior:

  • hyperactivity
  • parental attachment
  • behavioral compliance

Academic achievement:

  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary recognition
  • math ability
  • memory-based intelligence
  • scholastic competence (academic performance)

There are several other important variables which have been linked to formula feeding which they did NOT include such as:

  • Childhood leukemia
  • Diabetes
  • SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Maternal breast cancer
  • Maternal ovarian cancer
  • Maternal diabetes

I think it’s great that people are doing research on breastfeeding and formula, but I hope this one article doesn’t convince people not to try hard to breastfeed (since it can be difficult at first) or for employers not to support new mothers because while it would be good if formula didn’t lead to obesity, I think your child getting cancer or dying of SIDS, or a mother dying of cancer are very important variables to leave out.

In summary: formula may not lead to more obesity or some academic or behavioral problems, but there is previous research showing it is related to leukemia, SIDS, and maternal cancers. 

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