Filed under: Uncategorized
Hanna Rosin’s piece in Slate The Atlantic on the moderately ambiguous benefits of breastfeeding is a good read. My sense is that much of the push for breastfeeding comes from the worldwide campaigns by UNICEF and other nutrition-oriented development programs which are thinking more about conditions in poorer countries (i.e. most of the world) than about the developed world. In Africa and Vietnam, for example, not only do you have the old problem of lack of access to clean water, which makes formula a problem; you also have the problem of substandard or fake baby formula, formula containing melamine-tainted Chinese milk powder, or, as Vietnam recently found, formula containing almost no protein and almost all fat. Meanwhile there’s tremendous poverty pressure on mothers to start working soon after childbirth, which pushes them to use formula or, as in Vietnamese culture, to start feeding their babies rice at 3 months (which is basically crazy). Because third-world governments tend to be weak and unable to do things like inspect the baby formula supply, the safest way to guarantee that babies around the world are reasonably well fed is to push for universal breastfeeding.
But for wealthy mothers in first-world countries, it’s less important. The emergence of what Rosin calls “breastfeeding fascists” is probably tied to the emergence in developed countries of fascists wrt every other aspect of childrearing — no-processed-sugar fascists, not-letting-your-kid-walk-to-school fascists, or in the East Asian version making-your-kid-study-for-five-hours-after-school fascists. Basically it seems that an iron law of economic development is that high per capita GDP + having kids >>> parents becoming total fascist nut cases.
3 Comments so far
Leave a comment