Infant Formula - Uses, Risks and Controversies

Uses, Risks and Controversies

The use and marketing of infant formula has come under scrutiny. Breastfeeding, including exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, is widely advocated as "ideal" for babies and infants, both by health authorities — and accordingly in ethical advertising of infant formula manufacturers.

Despite the recommendation that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, less than 40% of infants below this age are exclusively breastfed worldwide. The overwhelming majority of American babies are not exclusively breastfed for this period – in 2005 under 12% of babies were breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, with over 60% of babies of 2 months of age being fed formula, and approximately one in four breastfed infants having infant formula feeding within two days of birth.

Some studies have shown that use of formula can vary according to the parents' socio-economic status, ethnicity or other characteristics. For example, according to a research conducted in Vancouver, Canada, 82.9% of mothers breastfeed their babies at birth, but the number differed between Caucasians (91.6%) and non-Caucasians (56.8%), with the difference essentially attributed to marital status, education and family income. In the United States, mothers of lower socio-economic status have been found less likely to breastfeed, although this may be partly related to adverse effects of government nutrition supplementation programs that provide subsidies for infant formula.

Read more about this topic:  Infant Formula

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