Americans were too busy in lockdown to breastfeed

One reason for the baby formula shortage is that the FDA protects American infants from being poisoned by Swiss-made baby formula from Nestlé, the company that invented baby formula. What flies off a French hypermarché shelf is strictly illegal here. (Let’s hope that it continues to be illegal to import Nestlé’s noxious formula and that, instead, we will import their Swiss-made chocolate and consume it to maintain our robust Covid-fighting BMIs.)

Another reason for the shortage turns out to be that American fathers, mothers, and formerly pregnant people of other gender IDs were too busy at home in lockdown to breastfeed. “Baby-Formula Shortage Worsened by Drop in Breast-Feeding Rates” (WSJ, May 29):

One of the contributing factors in the U.S. baby-formula shortage is a significant shift in the way parents feed their babies: Breast-feeding declined during the pandemic, reversing a decadeslong trend, health practitioners say.

Since 2020, the share of breast-fed one-year-olds has plummeted from an estimated 34% to an estimated 14% this year, according to surveys conducted by Demographic Intelligence, a forecasting firm that specializes in births and works with formula manufacturers including Abbott Laboratories and Nestlé. Because of the small sample size, the firm’s 2022 estimate has a range of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

After Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in March 2020, many new mothers had shorter hospital stays and were discharged before their milk had come in or their baby had latched successfully to their breast, breast-feeding experts say. Some infants weren’t given skin-to-skin contact with their mothers after birth because of concerns about Covid-19 transmission.

Some lactation consultants were furloughed, redeployed or designated nonessential personnel; others offered only virtual appointments. Parents had less access to in-person assistance from doulas and peer-support groups. They also had less help from family and friends, who stayed away to avoid exposing newborns to the coronavirus.

(I’m not sure why the article refers to “mothers” given that “fathers” can also breastfeed.)

Hillary Clinton’s wisdom remains important even as the torch of wise Science-informed leadership has been passed to Joe Biden:

“It takes a village,” Dr. Spatz said. During the pandemic, she said, “all the in-person, peer-to-peer support went away.”

Science is fickle:

Breast-feeding rates in the U.S. reached a low point in the 1970s, when many doctors told parents that formula was the best food for babies. Then a movement to promote breast-feeding, and growing research showing the benefits of breast-feeding over formula, led to a decadeslong increase in breast-feeding.

The share of one-year-olds who are fed with at least some breast milk climbed from 16% in 2001 to 36% in 2017, then plateaued in 2018 and 2019, according to latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Skin color matters:

The recent drop in breast-feeding has been particularly steep among lower-income families and people of color, Dr. Spatz said.

3 thoughts on “Americans were too busy in lockdown to breastfeed

  1. They were following the Science! 1.5m (apologies for the pagan units) distance protects anyone from COVID-19.

  2. This situation is so beyond ridiculous considering the simplest, most naturally occurring solution exists for all but most unfortunate individuals.

  3. Reminds me former USSR, each tine when staple products such as sugar were not available had had to be rationed Soviet newspapers and TV (the only kind of media that was legal) went on about health dangers of the staple product (for instance, sugar) and unhealthy hedonism of those who indulge in it. Let’s update the motto: “A posting for Izvestia every day; an interesting idea that worthy Pravda front page every three months…”

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