Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DHA and ARA in infant formula may be unsafe

Photo: Ancient Chemistry Set by Vortistic

A recent report from the Cornucopia Institute questioned the safety of DHA and ARA in infant formula. According to the report, infant formula with these additives have been linked to side effects including diarrhea, flatulence, jaundice and apnea.

DHA and ARA are fatty acids that are naturally present in human breastmilk. They are essential for the normal growth and development of infants.

The problem is, the form of DHA and ARA added in infant formula are not identical to what's in human breastmilk.

According to the report, the DHA and ARA additives are extracted from fermented algae and fungus with the use of hexane, a neurotoxic chemical. Furthermore, the laboratory-produced oils are only 40-50 per cent DHA and ARA. The rest of the oils is made up of sunflower oil, diglycerides, and nonsaponifiable materials -- some of these are not present in human breastmilk and are not meant to be consumed by human infants!

Ironically, milk companies are marketing DHA- and ARA-supplemented formula as "designer" infant formulas and many mothers, even doctors, are falling for it!

It is just another marketing gimmick from milk companies.

You can read the full report here:


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Despite Wyeth's claims, addition of lutein is questionable

Photo: "Through a child's eye" by DownTown Pictures

Beginning around the time that the Supreme Court released its ruling on the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Philippines Milk Code, Wyeth launched a massive campaign to promote its milk supplement with lutein. Wyeth's advertising and other promotional and marketing materials have emphasized the addition of a substance called "lutein" and claim that this enhances the visual development of children -- a claim that is in violation of the Supreme Court's ruling.

Perhaps many parents are falling for these claims. What they do not know is that the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has concluded that the addition of lutein in infant formula and follow-on formula is not justified.

In a document entitled, "Application A594 - Addition of Lutein as a Nutritive Substance to Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula - Draft Assessment Report" dated 13 November 2007, NZFSA made the following points:

The evidence is not sufficient that milk companies should be allowed to add lutein for eye health.

The data presented is insufficient and presents a high level of uncertainty. Moreover, most of the data presented were from research conducted by the milk company itself and have neither been published nor subjected to peer review.

The proposed levels (amount) of lutein to be added does not have any sound basis in science.

The proposed maximum levels of 250ug/L in infant formula and 500ug/L in follow-on formula do not have any sound basis in science. These levels are much higher than what is present in human breastmilk. Manufacturers did not consider bioavailability and the instability of lutein, which would lead to reductions in lutein content due to storage and time. NZFSA is concerned that this might lead to overdosing to make up for the losses.

The addition of lutein cannot be claimed anywhere on the label.

The NZFSA recommends that the only reference to the addition of lutein is in the ingredient list and the nutrition information panel." Like the Philippines, New Zealand law prohibits nutrition, health and related claims in infant formula products.

The analysis that the NZFSA made to assess the addition of lutein shows the kind of scientific rigour that the Department of Health needs to exercise to properly implement the Milk Code.

Based on their actions, milk companies are not concerned with clear eyesight. They are, rather, clouding our vision.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Presidential pronouncements on breastfeeding

Here's a report from Alex Iellamo of WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, from a recent conference on Infant and Young Child Feeding:

We are glad to inform you that on December 17 almost 300 Chiefs and Hospital Directors have gather in Manila Hotel to express their support to the Infant and Young Child Feeding Program of the Government.

The event was graced by the Secretary of Health, but the highlight of the day was the presence, and the strong message of support of the President of the Philippines, her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The President, in her keynote message, highlighted the following:
A) Breastfeeding as a fundamental strategy, to eliminate hunger and reduce child mortality in the Country;
B) That there is no "Substitute" for Mother's Milk…(In reiteration of what the Supreme Court of The Philippines, had also affirmed last October 9, in the final resolution of the Milk Code Case)
C) That with the Supreme Court upholding 56 out of 59 of the new provisions of the RIRR of the Milk Code, its time for all hospitals to support and contribute to the improvement of the Infant and Young Child Feeding Program of the Country…upholding the Milk Code of the Philippines and the Mother Baby Friendly Initiative of the Government

The President repeatedly stated in her message, that this Program should be tagged as the "Healthy Start Program…"

During the event, our Regional Director, Dr. Soe, presented the latest available scientific evidence in support of Breastfeeding, and the presentation was highly appreciated, in fact most of the participants as well as the other resource speakers requested for immedicate copies.

The year 2007 is ending with another important milestone for the IYCF Program, and for Child Survival in The Philippines. This is just a week after the Launching of the Philippines Child Survival Strategy, and now we have the President of the Republic, that reaffirms the importance of Breastfeeding, for the filipino children and the future of whole Country…

With this note, I wish to all of you a wonderful Christmas Season and a happy New Year


Photo @UNICEF/PHI/2007/J Bondoc