Be sure to see Dr. Jay’s new book: Preventing Autism: What You Can Do to Protect Your Children Before and After Birth.
Amazon Link: http://bit.ly/PreventingAutismBook
Barnes and Noble Link: http://bit.ly/PreventingAutismBookBN
Facebook Page for Dr. Jay’s new book: https://www.facebook.com/preventingautism]]>
Be sure to see Dr. Jay’s new book: Preventing Autism: What You Can Do to Protect Your Children Before and After Birth.
Amazon Link: http://bit.ly/PreventingAutismBook
Barnes and Noble Link: http://bit.ly/PreventingAutismBookBN
Facebook Page for Dr. Jay’s new book: https://www.facebook.com/preventingautism]]>
Here's my latest update published on The Huffington Post.
Be sure to see my new book: Preventing Autism: What You Can Do to Protect Your Children Before and After Birth.
Facebook Page for my new book: https://www.facebook.com/preventingautism
Tweets about "#preventingautism"
Food allergies, or reactions, are more common than many realize, particularly when dealing with the immature digestive system of a newborn! Many babies simply cannot break down some of the larger proteins without difficulty. There are times when symptoms begin so severely, or immediately, that it cannot be missed. More often symptoms increase with exposure and it is around six weeks when you begin to realize that there may be a food source causing the discomfort you are seeing in your child.
Common symptoms that are reactions to a food allergen are:
The top 7 food allergens are:
While most food allergies end up being one of the top seven it is possible to react to other foods, particularly proteins. It can be difficult to ascertain what food might be bothering your breastfed infant, particularly if dairy is one of the allergens because it can take up to six weeks before it is undetectable in breastmilk, though most moms see improvement within two days to two weeks. Patience is a key element in this process!
Number One Food Allergen: Dairy
Dairy is by far the most common food allergy but also the hardest to eliminate because of the time it takes to completely leave the system. However, it does begin to lower and will continue to drop as it is scrupulously kept out of the diet. Be careful to keep an eye out for all processed foods that all too commonly have casein, whey or other hidden dairy in them.
Milk: Does It Really Do a Body Good?
Often when there are food allergy symptoms the elimination of dairy, egg, soy and wheat will hit on the food allergen and improvements will be seen within the first week. If eliminating the top 4, or top 7 food allergens does not help with the identification of the culprit, consider an elimination diet that will help reduce the variables and approach it from the other direction. While it takes commitment, it is a much easier way to get clear answers to what is causing the symptoms.
Allergy Elimination Diet and a Food Diary
While doing an elimination diet keep a food diary in which you jot down everything that you eat, leaving a column to note baby’s symptoms as well. A food that a nursing mom ingests will be into the baby’s system within 4-6 hours of consumption. If an infant is extremely allergic to a food it may produce symptoms even from coming in contact with that food or as quickly as the first nursing after mom has eaten the food. Space the introduction of any food item out by 4-5 days. This is absolutely key and should not be rushed. If you are dealing with letting the system calm down after a reaction give it this same 4-5 days.
The elimination diet takes you back initially to only fruits and vegetables minus anything that is very acidic: any citrus including lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, pineapple, tomatoes. There is rarely a reaction to veggies and fruits that aren’t acidic, though it is still a possibility. A few days of this diet will help you see if the diarrhea or visible blood in stools stops and green BM is turned more “normal” color. If one of the symptoms you have been dealing with is eczema, it will take a while for the skin to clear up and heal but you should begin noticing that it isn’t as red or flared.
The next food to add is beans. This will provide a means for increasing protein without the use of meat at least for the time being. Use one kind of bean at a time to again, reduce the variables. I would not recommend using legumes, soybeans or garbanzo beans in the beginning stages, because sometimes children that are allergic to peanuts will react to other legumes or garbanzo beans and soy is in the top 7 food allergens. There are still a lot of options with pintos, black beans, black-eyed peas, lima beans, navy beans, etc. This will let you see if your baby can handle the protein in beans and get some protein back into your diet.
The first grain I would suggest adding is rice. Sometimes it can be an allergen, but usually it is not. I would continue to keep wheat eliminated in the beginning stages. As you add other grains remember to always go through the same process of waiting 4-5 days before introducing anything else new.
I know that it is difficult, for many, to think about a diet that does not include meat, but it is my best recommendation at least temporarily while going through the process of identification of allergens. There are some couplings of allergies that include meats. Some babies that are allergic to dairy are also allergic to beef. Some that are allergic to eggs are also allergic to chicken. In all my years of working with Dr. Jay I have seen one infant that reacted severely to chicken. That experience taught me to suspect anything as a possible allergen!
You will need to really expand your thinking about veggie options. Make soups, chili with beans, steam veggies, stir fry veggies, salads…when you get to rice experiment with ones you have never tried before and flavoring them with different veggies diced and cooked with the rice.
With this elimination diet you should begin to identify what the allergens are within a couple of weeks. The most encouraging thing to see is in a couple of days after you begin veggies and fruits many will begin seeing their baby’s system calm down. Most situations begin to improve in the first 2-7 days, though some can take 1-3 weeks. Now it does take patience because their intestines and lining of the stomach are irritated from tolerating things they are reacting to, but it will calm down with a little time.
Once symptoms have subsided, and you feel you have allergens eliminated, other foods may be tested one item at a time. Take precaution to introduce only one new item at a time with 4-5 days separation. This gives you enough time to observe for any reactions and eliminate the food with 4-5 days for the system to calm down before introducing another. Being vigilant about this waiting period will make the whole process easier in the long run and provide more clear answers.
A true food allergy is something that a child is likely to maintain throughout their lifetime, but sometimes what is thought to be a food allergy is actually a food reaction. Reactions to foods are sometimes outgrown by the age of three with the maturity of the child’s digestion system.
I highly recommend the book “Is This Your Child?” by Dr. Doris Rapp. This is an eye-opening book regarding children’s allergies. It’s a thick read, but even taking a look at sections of it will help you understand that food allergies can cause digestion difficulties, skin reactions and even behavioral changes.]]>
Because of damage to Japanese nuclear reactors, radiation is being released.
The amount released has exposed dozens of people who live or work quite close to the reactors and will increase their chances of radiation illness and even cancer. But, the short term danger to those of us hundreds or thousands of miles away appears to be non-existent. Radiation getting into the winds which blow from Japan to the West Coast will not be dangerous even if there’s a complete Chernobyl-type meltdown.
A longer term fear involves contamination of the atmosphere, crops and water with long-lived radioactive iodine and other isotopes. Even this longer view still doesn’t point to any dramatic rise in the risk of illnesses including cancer for Americans. Experts are recommending postponing planned trips to Japan for a variety of reasons mostly involving loss of infrastructure, but they also caution that increased radiation exposure could occur the closer one gets to the cities in Japan containing these damaged nuclear plants.
To summarize, we don’t need potassium iodide right now, we don’t need to lose any sleep and we do need better sources of energy than nuclear power plants. We’re very much OK and not at risk from nuclear meltdowns 5000 miles away.
My thoughts are with the Japanese and those of you here with family in harm’s way.
Gisele Bundchen, Nutrition Expert?
In a recent magazine article, Ms. Bundchen was quoted saying that breastfeeding should be the legal norm for all babies for the first six months of life.
Of course, this generated a storm of protest about “feeding choices” and whether or not we should listen to someone with her lack of credentials. Lost in the fabricated drama and controversy is the fact the we mustlisten if her advice and high profile can save babies’ lives. I’m sure that this one famous mother’s words will be heard and heeded by more mothers than we pediatricians can possibly reach. (Ms. Bundchen’s statement that post partum weight loss is faster because of breastfeeding is very much in line with current medical literature and will certainly appeal to most new mothers.)
It’s easy to misinterpret a forceful metaphorical statement about “chemical food”–infant formula–and the crucial lifesaving value of breastfeeding for six months. And, that’s exactly what pundits did to turn this into an “us against them” issue. “How dare she . . . ”
While it is tragic that a supermodel-mom dispenses better advice than many doctors and most governmental agencies, it’s impossible to misinterpret what the World Health Organization says about these artificial (chemical) feeding options:
The protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding rank among the most effective interventions to improve child survival. It is estimated that high coverage of optimal breastfeeding practices could avert 13 percent of the 10.6 million deaths of children under five years occurring globally every year. Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life is particularly beneficial, and infants who are not breastfed in the first month of life may be as much as 25 times more likely to die than infants who are exclusively breastfed.”…
There is a common misconception that in emergencies, many mothers can no longer breastfeed adequately due to stress or inadequate nutrition, and hence the need to provide infant formula and other milk products. Stress can temporarily interfere with the flow of breast milk; however, it is not likely to inhibit breast-milk production, provided mothers and infants remain together and are adequately supported to initiate and continue breastfeeding. Mothers who lack food or who are malnourished can still breastfeed adequately, hence extra fluids and foods for them will help to protect their health and well-being.
If supplies of infant formula and/or powdered milks are widely available, mothers who might otherwise breastfeed might needlessly start giving artificial feeds. This exposes many infants and young children to increased risk of disease and death, especially from diarrhea when clean water is scarce. The use of feeding bottles only adds further to the risk of infection as they are difficult to clean properly.”
Moreover, not breastfeeding has been found to double the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Read just one sentence above aloud:
“Infants who are not breastfed in the first month of life may be as much as 25 times more likely to die than infants who are exclusively breastfed.”
No parent in America is allowed to let their infant travel in a car in the “second best” way possible: Car seats are the law in all 50 states. A breastfeeding law will not be passed soon, but there is a moral, ethical and medical imperative to get this nutrition information to mothers and families any way we can. Hyperbole is easy to ridicule but, in this case, the hyperbole will prevent the deaths of many, many babies worldwide.
The World Health Organization estimates that one-and-a-half million babies die from lack of breast milk each year. 1,500,000.
If Gisele Bundchen’s magazine interview, comments and the resultant furor cause more mothers in developing nations to breastfeed, thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of babies will be alive a year, two years or five years from now who might otherwise have succumbed to diseases caused or fatally exacerbated by lack of mother’s milk.
I certainly wish that this legal proposal/metaphor had been issued by the government, health insurers or the American Academy of Pediatrics. In lieu of those recommendations, the very intelligent suggestion of a really smart mom will have to do.]]>
Nursing babies “cost” about 1000 calories per day so breastfeeding is one of the most efficient ways to make sure that the extra fat and water added during pregnancy are transferred to the rightful owner.
Nursing moms, and almost everyone else, need about 1800 calories/day to “get by” and much less than that is not healthy. Here are a few tips for getting into shape safely and a little bit faster:
The warning signs in super markets about swordfish telling pregnant women to limit the number of servings per month would lead me to a similar conclusion: Why eat any mercury-containing fish at all?
Stay active, eat as well as you can focusing on meals with lots of fruits, veggies, reasonable amounts of healthy protein, avoid alcohol, decrease or eliminate dairy products to have the healthiest pregnancy and the healthiest baby.]]>
Preventing outbreaks of this “novel H1N1″ influenza may be a mistake of huge proportions. Yes, sadly, there will be fatalities among the 6 billion citizens of the planet. Tens of millions of cases of any illness will lead to morbidity and mortality, but this is completely (tragically) unavoidable. The consequences of not acquiring immunity this time around, however, could be really terrible and far outweigh a mass prevention program.
Here’s my rationale for not using Tamiflu: If (if, if, if) this virus circles the globe as the rather innocent influenza it now appears to be, but mutates and returns as a very virulent form of influenza, it will be quite wonderful and life-saving to have formed antibodies against its 2009 version. These antibodies may be far from 100% protective, but they will help. This is incredibly important but being ignored in the interest of expediency.
In 1918, it appears that influenza A (an H1N1, by the way) did this globe-trotting mutation and killed millions. The times and state of medical care are not comparable, but a milder parallel occurrence is possible. Perhaps this happens every 100 years or so, perhaps every three million.
Whenever possible, we should form antibodies against viruses at the right stage of their existence and at the right stage of our lives (For example, chickenpox in childhood and EBV/mono in early childhood. There are many other examples.) Getting many viral illnesses confers lifetime immunity, and very few vaccines do.
Tamiflu is a very powerful drug with little proven efficacy against this bug, and with its major side effect being tummy upset. I’m not using it at all. Psychiatric side effects are also possible.
I also won’t be giving the flu shot to the kids and parents in my practice unless there are extraordinary risk factors. I anticipate giving none at all this year. I doubt that there will be any really large problems with the vaccine, but I also doubt any really large benefits. As I said, I think that this year’s version of this particular H1N1 is as “mild” as it will ever be and that getting sick with it this year will be good rather than bad. The chances that a new “flu shot” will be overwhelmingly effective are small.
I consider this, and most seasonal and novel influenza A vaccines, as “experimental” vaccines; they’ve only been tested on thousands of people for a period of weeks and then they’ll be given to hundreds of millions of people. Not really the greatest science when we’re in that much of a hurry. Yes, one can measure antibodies against a certain bacterium or virus in the blood and it may be associated with someone not getting sick, but there are very few illnesses common enough or enough ethics committees willing enough to do the right tests. That is, give 1000 people the real vaccine and 1000 placebo shots, expose all of them to the disease and see who gets sick. Seriously. I know it sounds terrible.
This is, obviously, a difficult public discussion because it touches on the concept of benefits and risks, again, of morbidity and mortality. Few public officials have the courage or inclination to present all facets of this difficult decision. I give vaccines to my patients every single day, but I always err on the side of caution. Implying that this is a dangerous new shot is not scientifically or statistically correct and represents hyperbole and even dishonesty on the part of the so-called “anti-vaccine” camp.
It sure isn’t “sexy” to suggest handwashing, good nutrition, hydration, extra sleep and so on. It’s not conventional to suggest astragalus, echinacea, elderberry and vitamin C. Adequate vitamin D levels are crucial, too.
I just think that giving this new H1N1 vaccine is not the cautious nor best thing to do.
Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP]]>
Interestingly, the AAP may actually have dramatically increased integrity under Dr. David Tayloe, our new president, but someone else violated the first rule of publicity: Don’t complain when some one makes you look a lot better than you really are. Even if he does it on April First!!
Dr. Susan E.Burger is one of the world’s foremost experts on international nutrition and epidemiology who shared with me her submission to the New York Times. The Times did not publish this excellent article and I asked her permission to post it here. Thank you very much, Dr. Burger
Goliath and the Gnats:
The resuscitation of an April fools’ joke that should have been allowed to die.
by Susan E. Burger, MHS, PhD, IBCLC, RLC
Increasingly, professional medical associations are evaluating their ethical standards and setting the bar higher. The American Psychological Association responded to a grassroots effort of their membership base by placing moratorium on psychologists participating in the interrogation of detainees. The International Lactation Consultant Association, of which I am a member, recently decided to stop accepting sponsorship from a company that is no longer complying with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. On April 1st, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a proposal for controlling conflicts of interest (and it was NOT a hoax).
As a parent, I would expect a professional medical association that declares itself to be “dedicated to the health of all children” to uphold standards at least as high if not higher than others. Unfortunately, it seems as if the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has become distracted by the urge to protect its reputation through silencing one of its critics, rather than clarifying and improving its ethical standards.
The AAP’s protectionist response was triggered when one of its own members posted on Lactnet, a listserve frequented by members of my profession. The pediatrician in question posted a fake press release from the President of the AAP. It does not take a neonatal surgeon to realize that the prominent display ofApril 1st and the poster’s own name suggests this was an April fools’ joke. Just in case anyone missed these obvious clues, the pediatrician clarified that the press release was a fake within several hours of his original post.
What was the essence of the spoof?
The fake press release stated that the AAP would end the ethical problem of receiving money and sponsorships from the pharmaceutical industry.
It apologized for the AAP’s role in watering down a national breastfeeding campaign and allowing a formula company logo to be printed on the Academy’s book on breastfeeding.
It finished with the assurance that the AAP would seek to comply with the International Code on the Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, a code published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and endorsed by the United States.
What is true in the fake press release is that the AAP does receive money and sponsorships from the pharmaceutical and formula industry; it did play a role in watering down the breastfeeding campaign; the front cover of its breastfeeding book is imprinted with a formula company logo; and it does not meet its obligations under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. What is not true in the fake press release is that the President of the AAP wrote it, apologized about the conflicts of interest, and made assurances about code compliance.
For a day, the false press release provided mild amusement and sighs of “wouldn’t it be great if this were true”. By the next day, the spoof had leaked into online forums and gone global!
A frequent blogger on issues of breastfeeding advocacy who goes by the username of Lauredhel, investigated the resulting chatter in the blogosphere and concluded, “no one who’s paying attention believes it is real”. Like many an April fools’ joke, this spoof should then have quickly disappeared into obscurity.
Unfortunately, the AAP itself resuscitated the discussion. On April 15th, the moderators of Lactnet posted a letter from Nicole Finitzo, attorney for the AAP, to ensure that members of the listserve understood the AAP’s position on the fake press release. The letter from Ms. Finitzo claimed that the fake press release “contains patent misstatements of fact and misrepresents the AAP’s position, and it is defamatory.” The breastfeeding advocacy blogger, Lauredhel, commented,“I do believe this is the very first time I’ve seen someone accused by a lawyer of defamation for claiming that an organization was more ethical than it actually is.”
Ms Finitzo also demanded of the listserve moderators that, “it will be essential for the original items and all copies on your server, wherever located, to be immediately taken out of circulation immediately.” Since the AAP has over 60,000 members and the Lactnet listserve merely comprises a few thousand members, this heavy-handed letter seems like Goliath swatting at gnats. Unfazed by the demand to remove the original items, the moderators of the listserve offered to post a statement on behalf of the AAP if they wish to further illuminate their stance on financial relationships with industry. The AAP has not yet replied.
I’m hoping that the AAP will come to its senses and realize swatting at gnats is a futile endeavor unlikely to earn anyone’s respect. I think the AAP would earn more respect if they chose to set higher standards to control the conflicts of interests that influence policies for children’s health.
Susan E. Burger, MHS, PhD, IBCLC, RLC
Proud member of the International Lactation Consultant Association, the United States Lactation Consultant Association, and the New York Lactation Consultant Association.
Excellent Follow up at HOYDEN ABOUT TOWN]]>
November 3rd, 2003 was a big day for Alabama emergency room pediatrician, Dr. Carden Johnston. On that date last month, he was installed as the new President of the 66,000 member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at the prestigious organization’s annual meeting in New Orleans. It was also the date that he sparked what has emerged as a major ethical controversy by inadvertently pulling back the curtains on the powerful influence that a particular corporate interest appears to have in shaping AAP policy and action.
“I have to admit that I never imagined that my presidency would start off with such a bang,” Dr. Johnston says, acknowledging the debate now taking place within his organization.
At issue is a letter dated November 3rd that Dr. Johnston sent to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Tommy G. Thompson, officially expressing the AAP’s concern over the “negative approach” of the federal agency’s soon-to-be-released, pro-breastfeeding advertising campaign. What Dr. Johnston didn’t mention in his letter, however, was that he had developed this sudden and seemingly urgent interest in this issue not via a last minute clinical review of the scientific literature, or even after consulting with the AAP’s own recognized lactation science experts.
In fact, his concern came immediately after aggressive, personal lobbying by representatives of one of the AAP’s biggest financial contributors, the $3 billion U.S. infant formula industry. Within days of a New Orleans meeting with worried formula industry reps, Johnston hurled the considerable credibility and persuasive impact of the esteemed American Academy of Pediatrics into an explicit effort to stifle the most ambitious initiative ever undertaken to promote breastfeeding in the United States.
“Some of us within the AAP have long suspected that the infant formula companies had this sort of direct access to AAP leadership,” explains Dr. Lawrence Gartner, a founding member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and chairman of the AAP’s Professional Section on Breastfeeding. “Dr. Johnston’s actions have revealed the extent of this influence more clearly than anything else I’ve seen. Many doctors within the AAP are very disturbed by this.”
Reflecting the strong opinions of a number of AAP members interviewed in the past week, Dr. Jay Gordon, a pediatrician and best-selling author of several parenting books, says that his opinion on the AAP leadership’s actions in this matter go beyond “disturbed.”
Dr. Gordon reports that, that in his view, the AAP leadership has “weakened and emasculated (the ads) to suit the manufacturers of formula,” and “as a result of their craven disregard for America’s babies and families, more infants will get sick and die each year. I wish that this greedy, immoral, reprehensible act could be met with criminal charges,” explains Gordon.
The ad campaign currently inspiring such passion among the nation’s pediatric health care providers is funded within the DHHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH), and has been in the works since 2000. Officially dubbed the “National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign,” the creative end of the OWH project has been handled by Raleigh, North Carolina advertising agency McKinney+Silver, while the entire project is overseen by The Ad Council, the private, non-profit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes public service campaigns on behalf of charitable organizations and government agencies.
In 2002, DHHS described the upcoming breastfeeding initiative as a three-year, multimedia social marketing blitz worth as much as $40 million in advertising dollars. It is alleged by a variety of organizations representing lactation consultants, physicians, nurses, midwives, and public health activists that the AAP’s last-minute appeal to DHHS prevented the much-anticipated campaign launch from taking place as scheduled this month. Additionally, it appears that representatives of the infant formula industry – with the benefit of prematurely leaked information about the specifics of the ad campaign- have been quietly lobbying federal and Ad Council officials to change the ads’ content and tone.
According to the AAP’s own Breastfeeding Section, at least one thousand new scientific and medical papers on topics related to breast and bottle feeding have been published in just the past four years. Taken as a whole, this mounting body of research revealsdramatically different health outcomes for populations of breast and formula-fed babies, even when controlling for socioeconomic and other factors. The new ad campaign was designed to reflect this research and to catapult the issue of breastfeeding into the same category of public health concerns as smoking, carseat use, childhood vaccinations, and SIDS prevention.
While critics of Dr. Johnston’s action strongly disagree that the tone of the DHHS ads is “negative,” they concede that the new campaign does offer a fundamentally different way of looking at the breast-bottle issue. They hasten to add, however, that this new approach was completely intentional. According to those medical professionals who played a role in creating the actual content of the new campaign, the ads utilize a market-oriented and evidence-based approach to the issue, relying for the first time on the proven communications strategies that have successfully impacted other public health behaviors in recent years.
According to those who have viewed them, the ads feature catchy slogans meant to become memorable such as “Breastfeed: It’s too important not to,” and “Babies are born to be breastfed.” Some of the ads also use humor to make their points, including TV spots showing a pregnant woman participating in roller derby and riding a mechanical bull. These absurdist images are used to make the point that, just as no woman would take those sorts of risks while pregnant, mothers of infants should avoid the quantifiable risks to their babies’ health that come with not breastfeeding.
“As I understood it, this was to be the first national advertising campaign that focused on the risks of not breastfeeding as opposed to the benefits of choosing to breastfeed,” explains Dr. Audrey Naylor, a San Diego pediatrician and Executive Director ofWellstart International, as well as a member of the AAP’s Breastfeeding Professional Section, and a past consultant to the World Health Organization on infant nutrition issues. “This would definitely mark a significant change in the way this issue would be presented to the general public. It’s a change to promote breastfeeding as a public health issue rather than simply as a personal parenting choice.”
The area of the website of The Ad Council devoted to a brief discussion of the planned DHHS breastfeeding campaign offers a glimpse into this very different, market-oriented way of viewing the issue of breast vs. bottle, stating that, “Babies who are not exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months will be more likely to contract asthma, allergies, and cancer.” In previous breastfeeding promotion campaigns, this statement would have certainly read “Babies who are breastfed will be less likely to contract asthma, allergies, and cancer.”
In a presentation sponsored by the Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles on the planned campaign, McKinney+Silver was quoted as seeking to move from creating awareness to creating conversion with the ads.
“Shift the language from ‘If you breastfeed, your baby will be healthier,’ to ‘If you don’t breastfeed, your baby will be more prone to…,” noted McKinney+Silver in describing the campaign’s approach. The presentation went on to note that, while most American women seemed informed of the benefits of breastfeeding, few seemed aware of the potential consequences of not nursing their babies. “(There is) no perceived disadvantage if you don’t breastfeed. Many think breastfeeding is like supplementing a ‘standard diet’ with vitamins. Formula, by default, is credited with the status of being ‘the standard.’”
In much of the rest of the world, ads for infant formula directed at consumers are verboten in much the same way that television ads for cigarettes and liquor are no longer acceptable in the United States. This global aversion to infant formula advertising is due to the widespread adoption by governments and private industries outside the United States of the World Health Organization’s Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes – known as the WHO Code.
In this country, however, there is only minimal adherance to the WHO Code by public or private entities and as a result, advertisements for different brands of infant formula are a ubiquitous part of the U.S. media landscape.
In years past, various individual government agencies, hospitals, and private organizations such as La Leche League International have attempted to counter the advertising sledgehammer wielded by the well-heeled infant formula industry via a patchwork of relatively low-budget, smaller-scale ads focusing on the “the benefits of breastfeeding.” However, the DHHS breastfeeding campaign to which the AAP leadership has now objected was to be the first national effort to utilize high-end, commercial-quality production values to position the “breast is best” public health message to go head-to-head with even the slickest Madison Avenue-produced infant formula ads.
Clearly, this was not a campaign that was going to play well with the infant formula industry, which has until now managed to create a uniquely advantageous situation in which it has positioned itself as the primary spokesman for its chief competitor in the marketplace, breastfeeding. And this new message is assuredly not the one they want projected into public consciousness.
“Ironically, infant formula companies in this country can honestly say they spend more on what they call ‘breastfeeding education’ than any other single entity,” explains Amy Spangler, a nurse and lactation consultant who currently chairs the United States Breastfeeding Committee, an umbrella consortia of health care organizations interested in breastfeeding that was intimately involved in developing the new DHHS campaign. “They also underwrite much of the research into infant feeding issues. The pay-off for them is that they then get to manipulate the message, which is always “Breastfeeding is best, but… There is always a ‘but,’ and breastfeeding is suggested as a type of ‘bonus feature’ for parenting rather than the norm.”
According to a number of sources within the medical community who were included in meetings during the planning process for the breastfeeding campaign, DHHS officials repeatedly stressed to participants that the specific messages of the ads –which were clearly shaping up to be potentially controversial- needed to be “embargoed” until their official release.
Amy Spangler attended several meetings with DHHS and OWH officials to discuss the Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign and she says that federal and Ad Council officials encouraged participants to avoid speaking publicly about the content of the planned ads before their release.
“It was never said specifically that the need for keeping the ads under wraps until release was due to anything having to do with infant formula companies, but I think we would have been naïve to assume that this was not one of the reasons why,” explains Spangler.
Despite the warnings, however, the infant formula industry did apparently gain access to much of the content of the ads, allowing them to begin an intensive and targeted lobbying effort against their release. DHHS officials are reluctant to discuss the circumstances surrounding the premature leak of the ads, saying only that “a small amount” of information about the campaign was accidentally released on The Ad Council website at some point in November. Hipmama.com has learned, however, that DHHS and Ad Council officials voluntarily met with formula industry representatives at several points during the fall, even as pro-breastfeeding stakeholders were being instructed by the same officials to keep mum in order to preserve the integrity of the ad campaign’s message.
Additionally, most or all of the actual ads were shown to dozens of attendees at a North Carolina medical conference in October, something that Office on Women’s Health spokesperson Christina Pearson says the agency didn’t authorize or even know about until after the event.
According to a variety of sources, members of Congress began hearing complaints about the pending ad campaign from infant formula manufacturers as early as the first week of October, but it was at the AAP convention in November that the industry was able to aim what is arguably the biggest weapon in its lobbying arsenal –the clout of the American Academy of Pediatrics – directly at the breastfeeding campaign.
“The reason why the infant formula industry is so successful is because they have managed to manipulate health care providers into providing them with a cloak of credibility,” explains Amy Spangler. “The bottom line here is that the president of (an infant formula company) doesn’t have to send a letter directly to a federal official when he can get the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics to do it for him.”
Public health advocates and many individual physicians, nurses, midwives, and lactation consultants have long criticized the cozy financial ties between infant formula manufacturers and major medical organizations such as the AAP, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The infant formula industry – part of the larger pharmaceutical industry lobby – is also recognized as one of the most effective and powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill.
Critics of this relationship between baby doctors and formula makers note that because the U.S. infant formula industry –with sales of $3 billion annually – clearly has a commercial interest in impacting parents’ infant feeding choices, the industry should not play any role in crafting public health messages relating to the industry’s clear competitor in the marketplace, breastfeeding.
“It is simply not appropriate for these companies to have a say in how publicly-funded health education campaigns present breastfeeding issues,” argues Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, and Executive Director of the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (NABA), a non-profit group promoting breastfeeding. “It would be like inviting a cigarette manufacturer to have a say in the message of a government sponsored anti-smoking campaign.”
OWH spokesperson Christina Pearson disagrees, however, insisting that DHHS has made it clear all along that the agency wanted to hear from “all sides” on the issue.
While it may be reasonably asked what “sides” exist when speaking of a public health campaign promoting a free or low-cost, healthy alternative over another, expensive and less healthy alternative, the AAP leadership decided that their organization was going to take sides. In a phone interview with Hipmama.com on December 3rd, AAP President Dr. Johnston readily admitted that he was approached by representatives of infant formula companies during the annual AAP convention in the first week of November, and asked to attend a “private,” “not on the agenda” meeting to discuss some concerns that the industry had with the planned DHHS breastfeeding campaign. He says that he and the three other members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Executive Committee, Dr. Joe Sanders, Dr. Carol Berkowitz, and Dr. E. Stephen Edwards, immediate past president of the AAP, met for approximately 45 minutes with “two or three” representatives of Ross Products “and maybe one other company” to hear their concerns.
“This was the first I had heard about this planned breastfeeding promotion campaign,” says Dr. Johnston. “Sad, but true. I didn’t know it was in development until after these folks told us about it.”
Dr. Johnston’s account of his interest in and knowledge of the DHHS ad campaign differs from the version reported in the December 4th edition of the New York Times. In a story entitled “Breastfeeding Ads Delayed In Dispute Over Content,” reporter Melody Peterson writes that Dr. Johnston and Dr. Sanders “…said that they had decided to send their letter before (infant formula company) executives expressed their concerns at the Academy’s national conference, held last month in New Orleans.”
In his interview with Hipmama.com, Dr. Johnston said that he became alarmed at the tone and message of the ads after viewing samples shown to him by the infant formula company reps in New Orleans.
“They showed us more than ten but fewer than twenty printouts of something that looked like ads. It was my impression these were copies of some of the ads,” says Dr. Johnston. “A lot of the ads looked fine to me, but I shared their concerns about the negative approach overall. It worried me, as it did them, that parents whose kids got cancer or grew up dumb might feel guilty if they did not breastfeed.”
Dr. Johnston says that he did not find it inappropriate or even remarkable that a commercial interest would have advance advertising copy from a planned multi-million dollar federal public health campaign designed to convince Americans to buy less of their products.
“I never asked them where they got this stuff,” says Dr. Johnston. “I just had the feeling that their relationships within Health and Human Services were better than ours at the Academy. I was actually embarrassed that this was the first time I was being made aware of the problems with this advertising campaign. Of course, they have to be concerned about issues that impact their shareholders.”
Dr. Carol Berkowitz, who will become AAP President in 2004-2005, confirms that she also attended this meeting, however in a phone interview on December 3rd, she told Hipmama.com that the meeting was noted on her personal conference schedule when she arrived in New Orleans.
“The meeting was on my own schedule that they handed me when I arrived,” says Dr. Berkowitz. “I assumed it had been set up in advance at AAP headquarters. I saw nothing remarkable about it; I attended many such meetings while I was there and I’ve been friends with many infant formula representatives for years.”
Dr. Berkowitz says that she too was concerned about the tone of the ads based on what formula industry representatives told her when she met with them at the AAP Convention.
“At the end of the meeting, Dr. Edwards asked what they wanted us to do and they told us that they had just wanted to make us aware of the situation, ” remembers Berkowitz.
Apparently, the AAP leadership’s freshly heightened awareness led to almost immediate action on behalf on the formula industry. In a letter dated November 3rd –- while the AAP convention was still underway in New Orleans and on the very same day he was installed as President — Dr. Johnston signed off on a strongly worded statement to DHHS objecting to the ostensibly still-under-wraps breastfeeding advertising campaign, based solely on what he had been shown and told by infant formula company lobbyists.
In the letter, Johnston notes that it has “come to his attention” that an ad campaign is about to be launched, and that he formed his opinions “after reviewing the Web Page of The Ad Council.” He does not mention that his concern was, in fact, prompted by a private meeting he had just concluded with representatives from the infant formula industry. Dr. Johnston told Hipmama.com that, despite the wording in his letter to Secretary Thompson, he is not certain that he personally viewed The Ad Council webpage before signing the letter, and that he didn’t actually draft the letter himself; staff at AAP offices near Chicago did. But he says that he was comfortable signing his name to it.
“I felt that we needed to send a letter immediately because the people we met with told me that these ads were about to be released,” explains Dr. Johnston. “They conveyed a sense of urgency to me and I shared their concerns. I thought many of our members would be disturbed if these ads were released in that format. I felt we needed to act.”
Meanwhile, members of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee and other medical professionals with an interest in the DHHS advertising campaign had no idea that the new President of the AAP had taken such an action. Within a week of the AAP convention, however, sympathetic sources within DHHS began contacting interested medical professionals around the country and quietly reporting that “something was up” with the breastfeeding campaign.
“We started hearing from people that the infant formula companies had begun an intense lobbying campaign against the ads within DHHS and other government offices, including Senator Bill Frist’s,” says Marsha Walker of NABA. “They were saying that they were unhappy with ads that told of consequences of not breastfeeding as opposed to stating the benefits.”
By mid-November, Dr. Lawrence Gartner had been alerted by a DHHS staffer to the existence of the Johnston letter sent on behalf of the AAP. Gartner says that he was very disturbed that the AAP’s own Breastfeeding Section had not been consulted or even notified about the contents of Dr. Johnston’s letter to Secretary Thompson, even though he and his colleagues in the AAP’s Breastfeeding Section had also attended the AAP Convention earlier in the month. After investigating the matter, Dr. Gartner felt compelled to send his own letters to Secretary Thompson, as well as to other AAP members.
In his letter to fellow pediatricians across the country, Dr. Gartner wrote that, “ There is every reason to believe that (the infant formula companies) are pulling out all the stops to get this ad campaign buried, or, at least, modified to be less effective… This entire affair is a very serious matter, which raises many questions about the leadership of the AAP and the influence of the formula industry on AAP activities.”
Mardi K. Mountford, Executive Director of the International Formula Council, a trade group representing the interests of infant formula manufacturers takes issue with Dr. Gartner’s assertion that her industry is seeking to discredit or delay the DHHS campaign.
“We strongly encourage mothers to breastfeed if they can, but we don’t believe that women need to be subjected to scare tactics like the ones that are in these ads,” explains Mountford. “Our only interest in reviewing the scientific claims in the ads is that they be accurate so that parents have the information they need to make their own decisions about what’s best for their families”
Mountford’s remarks highlight something that public health advocates have long noted; namely, that the infant formula industry’s tactics in lobbying against initiatives such as FDA regulation of their product, standardization of ingredients in their product, and now, the DHHS breastfeeding campaign are remarkably similar to the strategies employed by tobacco companies in the early years of the anti-smoking public health movement.
According to PRWatch.org, the tobacco industry created what eventually became known as the Council for Tobacco Research(CTR) in 1953, claiming that the organization’s mission was to ”find out whether smoking was dangerous…’” During the 1980s, internal CTR memos revealed that “ the CTR actually worked at “promoting cigarettes and protecting them from these and other attacks,” by “creating doubt about the health charge without actually denying it, and advocating the public’s right to smoke, without actually urging them to take up the practice.” Just as the infant formula industry currently pays for much of the research into breastfeeding in the U.S, for many years the CTR funded most research into tobacco health issues and attempted to insert itself as a “concerned” corporate citizen into the government’s earliest anti-smoking campaigns.
While Dr. Johnston’s letter to DHHS referred only to a “negative tone” in the ads, infant formula industry lobbyists had been contacting DHHS and Ad Council officials since Spring, 2003 and insisting that the specific scientific research upon which some of the language of the ads were based was faulty. OWH spokesperson Christina Pearson confirms that the infant formula industry raised these concerns with DHHS officials, and concedes that the ads have now been modified to remove references to specific statistics that quantify the higher risks for certain diseases. However, she says that this change was in no way the result of pressure from the infant formula industry.
Several sources within the Ad Council, which relies heavily on funding by pharmaceutical companies that also produce infant formula – such as Mead Johnson – claim otherwise. They say that Mead Johnson threatened to pull its millions from The Ad Council’s budget if the references to specific risk numbers were not removed from the ads. The Ad Council declined to comment on this report, instead referring all inquiries to Christina Pearson at OWH, who says her agency can neither confirm or deny this alleged incident.
According to Dr. Gartner, the industry’s complaints about a “negative” tone in the ads, as well as its questioning of the science behind the campaign are just red herrings designed to delay and water down the campaign for as long as possible.
“As far as a negative tone goes, most successful public health campaigns rely heavily on making the public aware of negative consequences of certain behaviors. While it may be a new way to approach breastfeeding promotion, it’s a common advertising device.” says Dr. Gartner. “We don’t tell parents about the ‘benefits’ of carseats. We tell them that studies indicate that if they do not use a carseat, their baby has a greater risk for being injured or killed in an accident. And telling them this has worked. Thousands of lives are saved every year because this message works.”
Dr. Johnston admits that he now regrets not having discussed the letter he sent to Secretary Thompson with his own “breastfeeding experts” within the AAP, including Dr. Gartner. But notification is as far as it should have gone, says Johnson. He stands by his concerns about the ad campaign.
“I rely on the breastfeeding experts to help me learn more about breastfeeding issues, but some of the science behind these breastfeeding claims is shaky. It’s just not solid yet, and you know how some of these breastfeeding enthusiasts can lack objectivity,” noted Dr. Johnston.
When asked whether this lack of scientific objectivity he has observed extends to members of the AAP breastfeeding section, he replied “some, not all.”
Dr. Gartner says that he finds Dr. Johnston’s statement about objectivity among the physicians in the AAP’s Breastfeeding Section “outrageous.”
“I’ve read thousands of scientific papers on breastfeeding and formula feeding in just the past few years and so have my colleagues in the Breastfeeding Section within the AAP,” notes Dr. Gartner. “I challenge Dr. Johnston to discuss the hard science behind this issue with me any time. I would welcome the opportunity. Frankly, I do not believe he is qualified to comment on the research because I doubt he’s read much of it except –it appears – possibly what the infant formula companies have shown him.”
According to many lactation consultants and physicians who have played a consulting role in crafting the DHHS ad campaign, an earlier release date offered by DHHS officials was to be in October, 2003, to correspond with World Breastfeeding Week. That date came and went and participants were next told that the date for the campaign’s official roll-out would December 3rd, to correspond with a meeting of breastfeeding and infant health experts that was scheduled to take place in Washington. In its December 4th edition, the New York Times cited an Ad Council newsletter that named a December, 2003 release date for the campaign.
Christina Pearson of OWH disputes the claim that there has ever been a true release date set for the ads and emphatically denies that any changes have been made to the campaign’s message as a result of pressure from the AAP or infant formula industry representatives.
“The campaign is still on the drawing board and as far as we are concerned it has never come off the drawing board,” explains Pearson. “Anyone who thought we were about to release the ads was simply mistaken. We will continue our review of the message and the content until everyone feels comfortable that we have it right.”
Katie Allison Granju is the author of “Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child” and her essays can be viewed on her website at Loco Parentis.]]>
The allergen in poison ivy is a substance called urushiol. What urushiol does, to people who are allergic to it, is bind with the skin cells and produce a rash. In order to treat a reaction to the poison ivy what you essentially need to do is “neutralize” the urushiol.
There are several herbs, when applied topically, that can do this. Jewelweed is one of the best. You can also combine this with any herb that contains a significant amount of saponins such as Soapwort, Horse Chestnut, Licorice, or Rose Leaves. Please remember that these are for topical use only as saponins shouldn’t be taken internally while pregnant or nursing, but are perfectly safe when used externally. Some things to help control the itching are aloe vera or plantain. Also, cool baths with powdered colloidal oatmeal can be extremely soothing.]]>
It’s no wonder that the pharmaceutical industry has made a huge effort to market drugs for ADHD and that a large and intelligent backlash has developed against the widespread use of these powerful chemicals.
I have been a pediatrician for twenty years and for fifteen of those years I completely disdained the use of Ritalin and the other psychopharmaceuticals for ADHD kids. I was probably wrong to “throw out the baby with the bath water.” Denying that a small percentage of children receiving Ritalin actually benefited from the drug was not fair to them. We don’t know enough about brain chemistry to completely understand ADHD, but we do know the impact of untreated ADHD on children: a much more difficult childhood and adolescence with school and social problems which can be nonstop.
I now try “everything else” before resorting to prescription medication, but I no longer rule out that possibility.
Deficiency in central nervous system dopamine probably causes many, if not most, of the problems associated with ADHD. Nutritional problems can cause or exacerbate this deficiency: supplemental tyrosine, B vitamins, vitamin C and copper have all shown a positive influence on improving the school performance of children with ADHD. These can all be combined with conventional therapy with no adverse interactions. Ritalin and similar drugs act by directly increasing brain dopamine levels.
Before I consider anything else, I try to persuade the family to put their child and themselves on an excellent diet. The standard American diet filled with sugar, artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, saturated fats, low levels of vitamins and minerals, and too much protein is not good for brain health or health in general. Mainstream medical journals have debated this topic for decades and most medical practitioners don’t like to consider nutritional alternatives in the treatment of any disease because it takes too long to discuss it with their patients.
I recommend whole foods as the backbone of the nutritional regimen. As obvious as this sounds, most children get the bulk of their food in an over-processed form. Whole grain cereals and breads and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and beans and pasta make for meals which interest children and adults. Counsel your patients to avoid sugar!! Reading labels closely will show parents just how many artificial additives have worked their way into kids’ daily diets. Many chemicals mimic brain neurotransmitters and even conventionally published research admits that sugar has a negative impact on the behavior of ADHD children. Processed cereals and high-fructose corn syrup sweetened drinks add huge amounts of sugar to a child’s day. Even regular unsweetened apple juice in the quantities some children like can be a large source of extra sugar.
There are many alternative remedies which can be used to treat children with ADHD and learning disorders. We must help the families in our practices find these and guide them in their usage.
Ginkgo Biloba dilates blood vessels and improves circulation to the brain. Researchers have shown it’s utility in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Variations are to be expected, and are in no way to be considered a defect.
– Hang tag from Madras shirt
Statistics reflect this confusion. Depending on who you read, some experts say we have about eight hundred-thousand learning disabled children in the country. Others put the figure as high as eight million.
In 1963, when “learning disabilities” were first described, we found very few students with the problem and thought the problem was rare.
Some take a very conservative view and say that 30 – 50% of us will outgrow it, but a growing body of experts think we just learn to cope with it. There’s a certain brain development that takes place at puberty that sometimes makes ADD much easier to live with. I think the jury’s still out but my guess that most of learn to live with it, not outgrow it.]]>
For anxiety, a mix of Kava and Siberian Ginseng is good.
For depression, Gingko Biloba or Borage. There has been a good amount of success with a combination of the two as well.
Keep in mind when combining herbs to treat one symptom or illness to use a proportional dosage. (i.e., two herbs would be half dosage of each, three herbs would be one-third dosage, etc.)
Here is a link that goes into homeopathic remedies for depression. The info given is on postpartum depression simply because all of these are safe while nursing. They are all used to treat general depression as well, so they’re not specific for use for PPD.
Homeopathic Remedies for Postpartum Depression – MotherNature.com Health Encyclopedia
The usual speech applies here. When looking into using herbal or homeopathic remedies, make sure you’re getting them from a good health food store. Avoid commercial places like GNC. Get out the yellow pages and look under health food stores, then call around until you find one with a certified herbalist on staff. This is the store you want to go to.
Exercise should not be forgotten when dealing with depression. It has been shown that regular exercise is the best remedy for depression. There have been patients who’ve suffered repeated bouts of depression who have been able to go off meds completely after starting and maintaining a regular exercise program.]]>
The dosage for regenerating cartilage is 1500 mg of glucosamine a day and 1200 mg of chondroitin a day. Take this dosage until you start feeling a relief from the pain. Then drop down to 1000mg of glucosamine and 800 mg of chondroitin until pain disappears. From that point on, take a daily dose of 500 mg glucosamine and 400 mg chondroitin daily to prevent future degeneration.
Patients using glucosamine for osteoarthritis should take 1500 mg per day. It can take up to 4 – 8 weeks to relieve pain. Therefore, continuing on a NSAID during this time period may be necessary.
Patients with type II diabetes should monitor their blood sugar carefully due to concerns that glucosamine might increase insulin resistance.
In considering which supplements will assist you best with joint pain, it may be helpful to know that the absorption rate for chondroitin is 0 to 8% while the glucosamine sulfate is 98%. Glucosamine sulfate is the best source. It is possible to get the relief you are looking are with glucosamine alone.]]>
Here are some natural treatments for colds that can be used in children and are also safe while nursing. When using herbs with children you can usually find a product made specifically for infants and children. If you can’t here’s how to determine the dosage. You take the child’s weight and divide it by 150. The resulting fraction is the portion of the adult dose to administer.
The first thing you’ll want to do is boost your body’s immune system. Echinacea, 2 capsules 3 times per day, and Colloidal Silver are great immune system boosters. You may also want to boost your intake of vitamin C, up to 500mg 4 times per day, and eat foods with plenty of fresh garlic.
Anise and Mullein, in tea form and taken as needed, are both natural expectorants. Elderberry, 10ml 2 times per day, is the best antiviral product on the market, natural or otherwise. It is most effective in fighting the flu virus, but is also very effective against cold viruses.
Aromatherapy can be a great tool as well. Lavender and Clary Sage in your bath are what you’ll want to use. Lavender works to relax muscles and can help soothe coughs and Clary Sage helps alleviate the grumpiness that tends to accompany colds. What you’ll need to look for is an essential oil. It is the oils of these plants that work, so something that merely contains a fragrance is going to be useless. Then what you do is take some unscented liquid soap and add five drops Clary Sage oil and ten drops Lavender oil and use your finger to mix the oil with the soap. This emulsifies the oils so that they mix with your bath water.
Nettle, 2ml 2-5 times per day, is a natural antihistamine. Nettle is also wonderful for treating seasonal allergies. It’s a great alternative to artificial antihistamines that can affect milk supply.
1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
1/8 teaspoon peppermint essential oil
1/8 teaspoon rosemary essential oil
1/8 teaspoon clary sage essential oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix ingredients together in a glass bottle (not plastic as the essential oils will bleed into it making the rub less effective) and shake well. Massage onto chest as often as needed.
1 tablespoon anise
1 tablespoon mullein leaves
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon rose hips
1 tablespoon slippery elm bark
1 tablespoon lemongrass leaves
1 quart water
½ cup rice syrup
Place herbs and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Remove from heat, cover and let herbs steep for 45 minutes. Strain out the herbs. Return liquid, uncovered, to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and slowly stir in syrup. Let cool completely. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 12 months.
Dosage: Up to 20 lbs.=1/4 teaspoon, 21-40lbs.=1/2 teaspoon, 41-60lbs.=1 teaspoon, 61 lbs. and over= 2 teaspoons, taken every 4 hours.]]>