It seems we’ve just gotten over the melamine milk scandal that killed six infants and caused serious illness to 300,000 more, when we stumble upon another piece of disturbing news.
The Daily Mailreported that a number of female babies in Hubei have developed premature puberty. The babies, ages 4 to 15 months, have hormone levels comparable to an adult woman and have formed breasts. At present, the only thing linking each case is the use of infant formula produced by Chinese company Synutra. Synutra maintains their formula has nothing to do with the defects and thus far authorities have refused to run tests on the formula.
While living in China it seems the best, and safest route for families to take, is to bypass local formula brands entirely and pay that bit extra for the imported product. Alternatively, studies in support of breast-feeding are many and varied. Breast milk contains high amounts of complex sugars, which until recently were considered useless as they could not be processes by the human body. It has in fact been found that these sugars promote a certain type of bacteria that coats the lining of the infant’s intestine, protecting it from noxious bacteria.
Another study supporting breast-feeding is Facts for Life, a joint publication between the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies including the World Health Organization and the World Bank. According to their research, breast milk alone is enough to meet an infant’s need for fluids in the first 6 months of life. Meaning the baby doesn’t require any other forms of food or drink, including water.
Recent comments from Brazilian super model and new mom, Gisele Bundchen, do not do anything to calm the rift of "us vs. them" that has resulted from the formula/breast-milk debate. However, it’s important to remember that breast-feeding does not necessarily come naturally; for more information on delayed milk production see here.
Whether you breast-feed or use formula, it’s important everyone steer clear of dodgy local products — Chinese infant formula being number one on your list.