Monday, September 29, 2008

"single best strategy for the infant's survival, growth and development"

Trust that Breast is Safest and Best
(A Press Release by BMSG)

The Breastfeeding Mothers' Support Group (Singapore) (BMSG(S)) writes with utmost concern regarding the impact caused by the tainted Sanlu brand of formula milk and the needless deaths and loss of health of thousands of infants. In addition, newspapers have also reported on cases of contamination with urea by dairies in India some years ago. Although these, and other, scandals have largely been contained within the countries of origin, we can hardly afford to remain apathetic about the safety of artificial formula milk consumed by our infants whose only source of nutrition in the first six months is from milk.

The BMSG(S) takes this opportunity to stress to mothers that breastmilk stands alone in providing all the necessary nutrients in the necessary proportions required for the optimal health, growth and development of our infants. Mother's milk is special and every species of mammal produces milk that is unique for the young of that species. Simply put, human breastmilk is specially designed for our human babies. Whilst children might develop allergies to artificial cow's milk and many others are lactose intolerant, breastmilk prevents rather than causes allergies and is gentle on our infants' immature digestive systems. Only we as mothers, can ensure that our infants are shielded from the potential harm caused by synthetically manufactured products, contaminations, manufacturing errors, lax controls, cover-ups and errant profiteers. Our babies depend wholly on us for the crucial months of their lives to give them the best milk that nature meant solely for them.

Breastmilk contains many nutrients, some of which are present in minute levels that cannot be duplicated in formula milk and yet play important roles in meeting the needs of developing infants. Breastmilk is also a constantly changing formula through the months, weeks and even days. This ensures the best nutrition at every point in the lives of our infants and is not controlled by artificial nutrient levels set by man. When mothers choose to exclusively breastfeed, they choose to trust in the ultimate goodness of their own breastmilk. Their infants are thus protected from any errors in the production process of formula milk which can mean a difference of life and death or loss of health, as has been sadly highlighted in the scandals.

With the growing affluence of women, their desire to return to the workforce after birth and difficulties faced at their workplace, many mothers have been swayed over by savvy advertising to replace breastfeeding with formula milk as the convenient source of nutrition for infants. With fewer children born per family, it is all the more critical that we give our precious babies the best start in life through breastfeeding. This best start remains in later life as children who are breastfed have been found to have a higher IQ advantage. The World Health Organisation (WHO), in response to the scandal, has once again reiterated that breastfeeding is the "single best strategy for the infant's survival, growth and development".* Its message to mothers is to exclusively breastfeed their infants for six months and thereafter to 2 years and beyond with complementary feeding of solids.

Mothers often assume that if breastfeeding is not possible - which is a rare situation - then formula feeding is the second-best alternative. The WHO makes it very clear that this is absolutely not true. Second-best feeding is mother's own expressed milk given by cup or tube. Third-ranked best choice is donated breastmilk from a milk bank whilst formula ranks only a distant fourth.

Breastfeeding is a natural and loving act. The BMSG(S) urges all mothers to put their trust in their own abilities to breastfeed and to make breastfeeding their best feeding choice. The BMSG(S) offers workshops for all mothers-to-be to prepare them for their breastfeeding journey and trained counsellors offer support to mothers who face any difficulties with breastfeeding. The BMSG(S) would like to stress that breastfeeding difficulties can be managed and overcome if mothers request for assistance early and breastfeeding becomes easier once mothers get the hang of it. Mothers can contact us through our helpline at 6339 3558, email at or website at

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