Fall 98 Newsletter INFACT Canada

Canada Breastfeeds News

Canadian Paediatric Society nutrition advice laced with artificial feeding

The damaging effects of conflict of interest continue to be evident in statements put out by the Nutrition Committee of the CPS. Although Dr. Doris Yuen has assumed the position of chairperson, the lack of conviction that breastfeeding is the normal and optimal way to feed infants persists. A recent article, in the CPS journal, Paediatric Child Health, entitled Feeding premature infants after hospital discharge is one such example. It seems the only options are commercial premature infant formulas and human milk supplemented with fortifiers. Although the article aims to outline factors to consider when prescribing appropriate nutritional supplements at hospital discharge, no mention is made of the risks or benefits associated with these choices. Equivalency is assumed, yet for premature infants this choice can make a significant difference in health outcomes. Premature infants who are artificially fed risk increased death, developing necrotising enterocolitis, acute respiratory disease, lower IQ and increased behavioural and learning problems as well as increased infectious and autoimmune disease.

Interestingly, no mention is made of the increasingly used and rediscovered Kangaroo skin-to-skin method of caring for premature infants. This wonderfully simple care method has repeatedly been shown to be beneficial to both mother and infant, improves breastfeeding success, enhances both growth and development and reduces illness and mortality.

The same journal contained four- full page advertisements by Mead Johnson. Clearly the CPS does not want to compromise the hand that feeds it.

From The UK Association for Milk Banking

Although milk banks all but disappeared during the 1980s and early 1990s–in 1991 the number had dwindled to only six active banks–today that number ha more than doubled. This increase reflects a growing awareness of the importance of human milk for pre-term babies and the need to provide an alternative source of breastmilk when the mother is unable to provide her own.

Canada’s action plan

Thanks to the diligent work of Micheline Beaudry, Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security includes, as a key action, the promotion and protection of breastfeeding for Canada. “For the majority of infants, breastfeeding is the most important guarantee of food security. It ensures a safe, secure and nutritionally complete food source” the report notes. Further, the report recommends the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and work toward employment conditions that are supportive of breastfeeding women.

The report also focuses on Canada’s international support programmes. It notes that the WHO estimates of 1.5 million baby deaths every year can be averted by adequate breastfeeding, which plays a “key role” in the nutrition, health and development of children in developing countries. Action recommended includes the promotion of the Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and the support for international efforts to promote, support and protect breastfeeding.

Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security, A Response To The World Food Summit, Agriculture Canada, 1998.

Canada launches the BFHI

Canada’s progress in realizing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiatives has been slow and reluctant, despite the urgings of those in the breastfeeding community To date there are still no hospitals designated as Baby-Friendly. Although the initiative has been in place since 1990 and INFACT Canada has been promoting the initiative since its inception, it was not until November 1998 that Health Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada launched the programme nationally. Now that a number of assessors have been trained and the programme has been officially launched, this important initiative can finally be realized for Canadian mothers and their infants.

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