Here's my summary of the year's most significant stories related to breastfeeding. If you're feeling nostalgic you can see my 2008, 2007, and 2006 summaries, too.
The Case Against Breastfeeding. Probably the biggest ruckus in the breastfeeding world was caused by an article in the Atlantic Monthly, titled "The Case Against Breastfeeding," which essentially made the arguments that a) there is scant evidence for the superiority of breastfeeding over formula feeding, and b) breastfeeding "keeps women down." You can read my response here if you like, as well as other reactions, from groups as influential as the American Academy of Pediatrics. This article was followed by a similar one in the Times of London.
Far fewer people than those who read The Case Against Breastfeeding saw this article about Dr. Michael Kramer, one of the researchers whose work was cited in the article. Described as "spitting tacks" over how his work was characterized, he says that his findings were "grossly misinterpreted," and that "there really isn't any controversy about which mode of feeding is more beneficial for the baby and the mother." He called the articles "sensationalist" and accused the journalists of misquoting him in order to support their opinions.Salma Hayek and "the latch heard round the world." Salma Hayek turned even more heads than usual when she nursed a baby (not her own) while on a goodwill mission to Sierra Leone. This ignited a debate about cross nursing, particularly of babies in need. For more of the year's celebrity breastfeeding stories, see this week's celebrity round-up guest post.
New HIV recommendations should reduce transmission through breastmilk in developing world. In what may lead to a major advance in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV through breastfeeding, the World Health Organization is now recommending that mothers take antiretroviral drug therapy during the course of breastfeeding. For a more thorough description of this policy change and its implications, see this post.
Formula marketing issue heats up; plastics industry plots campaign to make us want to ingest BPA. An eagle-eyed reader of this blog was the first to point out that a formula company website was using a page header calling their product "the breastmilk formula," and one formula company revealed a new "nightime formula" which is actually exactly the same as their "reflux formula" (added rice starch). And notes from an industry meeting of plastic executives revealed that they considered launching a campaign to promote BPA, using a pregnant mother as their 'holy grail' spokesperson.
Recession hits breastfeeding support programs. Around the country, breastfeeding support programs, became victims of the economic downturn. One of the premier lactation programs on a university campus, UC Davis, wasn't immune, losing its breastpumps and lactation specialist support.
Breastfeeding and the law in the spotlight. New laws were enacted, most notably for my state (Massachusetts). And in some of the first judicial tests of lactation laws, an Ohio court case dodged the issue of whether pumping at work is protected under the state's pregnancy discrimination law, and a California employment commission found that it was illegal to fire a mother for breastfeeding on the job.
Countries inch closer to using breastfed growth as the norm. In the biggest practical endorsement yet of the World Health Organization's new growth charts which use the breastfed baby as the normative growth pattern, the U.K. largely adopted the charts for use in the National Health Service. Next up, the American Academy of Pediatrics? A girl can hope.
WIC changes food package to push exclusive breastfeeding. I'll be publishing a guest post explaining this in more detail soon, but the news is that this year WIC began distributing an enhanced food package for mothers who breastfeed exclusively. Exclusive breastfeeding moms now get the largest and most varied food package of all, and get the largest quantities and most varied baby foods once their babies turn 6 months old. The hope is that these incentives will significantly improve the rate of exclusive breastfeeding among moms enrolled in WIC.
Best for Babes Foundation launches new ad campaign. The Best for Babes Foundation created an attractive and persuasive new ad campaign, and the ads have appeared in national pregnancy magazines. Best for Babes' advocates to eliminate the "booby traps" that stand in the way of breastfeeding success.
Toxins in breastmilk and formula in the news again. Several studies were released on toxins in breastmilk and toxins in formula, and the blogosphere briefly became fixated on the question of whether toxins in breastmilk cause autism. Want the facts? See this post.