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The Bottle Feeding Epidemic and Killer Baby Formula

In a nutshell

In the late 1800s, the questionable application of the theory of evolution convinced women that they "developed" out of breastfeeding. Bottle feeding was seen as a more civilized, modern alternative. Unfortunately, the cow's milk that replaced breast milk was rarely pasteurized and of such poor quality that it led to a terrible increase in child mortality in the United States.

The Whole Bushel

While breastfeeding, some things worked against the United States from the Victorian era. Sigmund Freud's theory was that babies sucking on their mother's teats showed incestuous desires. In response to Freud's theory and evolution, Victorian mothers replaced breast feeding with bottles.

Future-oriented mothers believed that bottle feeding was the future of raising children. They also assumed that recently invented "scientific" baby food and "treated" cow's milk were a healthier alternative to simple breast milk. You were wrong. The cow's milk from which most infant formula was obtained was typically unpasteurized. The milk that mothers fed to their children was often spoiled and littered with bacteria.

In the 1

890s in Chicago, Illinois, a study found that 15 "hand-fed" babies died for each breastfed child. The medical community responded with one of the most aggressive public health campaigns in history. In Minneapolis, for example, the Breastfeeding Office of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota was founded to help every new mother in the region with lactation-related problems. Posters and literature announcing the benefits of breastfeeding became mandatory in American cities. While breastfeeding never reached the hoped-for level of doctors, they were able to take enormous corrective measures to reduce child mortality in the United States and promote a successful pasteurized cow's milk campaign.

Show Me The Proof

The New Yorker: If the breast is at its best, why do women fill their milk?
Low Breastfeeding Rates and Public Health in the United States

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