The Loss Of Our Son Has Devastated Our Family – This Time I Will Be Supplementing With Formula After Every Nursing session

“Can I have a pacifier?” 

After helping a third-time mother latch her new baby, she requested the comfort tool she had used with her other two babies, whom she successfully breastfed until she went back to work and chose to wean. Our hospital policy is to educate patients on the many ways pacifiers can disrupt breastfeeding, rather than simply respecting the mother’s choice. The problems with this approach are twofold: there is recent good quality research showing pacifiers do not disrupt breastfeeding and actually reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Even the WHO agrees—in 2018 they changed their Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to reflect the fact that pacifiers are compatible with breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding and pacifier use have a protective effect on sudden infant death syndrome

In responding to my patient, I had to choose between scientific evidence and maternal autonomy on the one hand, and our hospital protocol on the other. I chose to sneak her a pacifier at her request. To do otherwise would have been disrespectful towards this experienced mother, denying her autonomy over her baby and her body, and would have been contrary to my Code of Professional Conduct as an IBCLC, which emphasizes evidence-based practice. 

Cochran Review: Pacifier use versus no pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding.

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Guidelines for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo Credit: Shutter Stock

By the Fed is Best Foundation Health Professional Team

We have summarized the current recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control  for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have also endorsed the CDC recommendations. This information is intended to inform health care professionals and pregnant mothers who are confirmed positive for COVID-19 or persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 in the hospital and postpartum settings.

The symptoms of coronavirus for pregnant and lactating mothers and infants are the same as those of the general population, which include but are not limited to:

  • Fever 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Sputum production 
  • Body aches

The United States is currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, particularly in New York, New Jersey, California and Washington State. See the current world distribution of Coronavirus cases here. Continue reading

Is Breast Milk Stealing The Spotlight Of A Novel Anti-Tumor Compound?


The “magic” of breastmilk is never-ending, plastered everywhere on social media with little regard to true scientific analysis. The idea that breastfeeding prevents cancer is a huge promotion point for why mothers should breastfeed at all costs. But while the cancer-preventing benefits are overblown, there is an even bigger claim surrounding the anti-cancer properties of breastmilk; that breast milk kills cancer, in and of itself.  This is a claim that I have seen made many times, so I decided to dig into the research and see where this claim came from and how truthful the claim is.

So where did this idea that breastmilk can kill cancer cells come from? It’s actually a long, and interesting accident of science.  In 1995 researchers were studying the adherence of bacteria to lung cancer cells in the presence of human milk fractions [1]. Fractionation is simply the process where the different molecule types in any substance are separated from one another. One of the tested fractions showed not only inhibition of bacterial adherence but also induced apoptosis of the tumor cells. Apoptosis is just a fancy word for cell death. This fraction was α-lactalbumin, an abundant protein in milk. However, α-lactalbumin in its natural state has no effect on tumor cells.  So what happened in the 1995 study? It seems that the researchers fractionated the milk at a low pH (acidic) implying that there was some kind of change in the structure of the protein. Further work showed that a reaction between the α-lactalbumin and oleic acid (acids lower pH) form the HAMLET compound [2]. HAMLET stands for Human α-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumors. HAMLET is an incredibly interesting compound that induced cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells but not human cells.

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Can Stem Cells From Breast Milk Be Found In The Brain Of Babies?



The long list of things that we are told breastmilk can do seems to be never ending. The newest addition to the list is that stem cells in breast milk can travel from the gut to the brain of a breastfeeding infant. The linked news article says stem cells in breast milk have been seen in the brains of babies. They go on to say that breastfed babies are known to have higher IQs than formula fed babies, a fact that is decidedly false when studies control for socioeconomic factors. There is then an implication of some sort of mechanism between stem cells in the brain and an increased intelligence.

But upon closer examination of the evidence, stem cells haven’t been seen in the brains of human babies, but rather the brains of mice pups.

I have examined this study and described the methods as well as the strengths and weaknesses of it below. This study sought to track cells in breast milk from a mouse to pups that she is nursing. To do this they used mice that have and have not been tagged with a protein called GFP. GFP is a protein originally found in jelly fish, that glows green under certain conditions. In this study tagged mice fed untagged mice, allowing the researchers to look for glowing in the brains of the baby mice, to see if cells from breastmilk travelled from the guts to the brains. First the researchers looked at fluorescence or glowing in breastmilk of tagged and untagged mice. They did show that only the tagged milk glowed, however, they did not determine cell types in the milk, meaning we cannot make the determination that it is stem cells that they are tracking. The researchers then claim to have found the stem cells from breastmilk in the brains via glowing in brain tissue samples from mice pups fed from GFP tagged mice. However, this study lacked a control group where fluorescence was measured in untagged pups fed by untagged mother mice, meaning we have no baseline “glow” to compare results too. However, without a negative control (brain samples from an untagged pup fed by an untagged mother) we cannot make a determination about this data being artifacts of auto-fluorescence (background noise). This lack of a control is very concerning in light of the STAP cell fiasco, when major claims were made based on auto-fluorescence of stressed cells, rather than fluorescence due to changes applied by the researchers.
This paper is highly technical, but deeply flawed in the methods. They have failed to show adequate proof that a delicate stem cell can survive the acidic environment of the stomach and travel to the brain. However, even if we accept these unproven claims of breastmilk stem cells in the brain, long term data shows that the point is moot, as cognitive outcomes are equivalent in breastfed and formula fed infants.

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An Evaluation Of The Real Benefits And Risks Of Exclusive Breastfeeding.

by Alexandria Fischer, PhD candidate at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, studying synthetic microbial communities

It’s a mantra we have all heard, on repeat. “Breast is best.” But what does that really mean? Moms are bombarded by messages about the benefits of breastfeeding, such as increased intelligence, less illnesses, and a decreased risk of cancer. But what mothers are not told, is the quantifiable proof of these benefits.

The paper “Is the “breast is best” mantra an oversimplification?“, published in the Journal of Family Practice in July 2018, sought to critically evaluate claims of breastfeeding benefits in an effort to truly understand them. These authors note that the same data has produced a wide range of conclusions about the reported benefits of breastfeeding. They sought to tease apart what variables were truly impacted, and which were not. In this review the authors determined the number needed to treat (NNT) for a myriad of health issues that are often claimed to be reduced by breastfeeding. The NNT simply means how many babies need to be breastfed in order for one baby to benefit. We need to use caution when examining NNTs because they cannot make a causal determination, meaning they cannot be used to say “breastfeeding prevented this infection” they are simply used to determine a correlative relationship.

“The NNT (numbers needed to treat) simply means how many babies need to be breastfed in order for one baby to benefit.”

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