When was the last time you checked the ingredients in your baby’s formula?
A mystery is unfolding in the central area of Wuhan and the capital of Beijing in China, where 4 formula-fed babies and toddlers began growing breasts. Tests showed abnormally high levels of estradiol and prolactin in the baby’s blood. Could it happen in the Middle East, where formulas have been retracted before?
Israel saw infant deaths in 2003 when a run of Remedia brand soy formula lacked Vitamin B1. And in February of this year, dangerous bacteria led to a recall of batches of formula manufactured in Turkey and marketed in Middle Eastern countries.
Tainted milk led to the deaths of six infants in China in 2008. 300,000 babies developed kidney stones from the addition of melamine, a cheap substance that mimicked milk protein in quality tests.
It’s assumed that the breast development in China is related to infant formula, although analysis of the formula did not uncover excess hormones. AOL reports that contrary to early claims, not all of the affected children drank the same type of formula. Still, the manufacturers may have bought raw ingredients from the same source.
Hormones fed to cows could be the cause of the problem (although estrogen would inhibit milk production), as could foods that the mothers ingested during pregnancy. Other environmental problems may also contribute to the cause.
Hormones, pesticides and antibiotics in our food supply can cause health problems that are not easy to track and formula-fed infants who eat the same manufactured food every day are most vulnerable to problems.
Sometimes the effects are obvious, such as when a vitamin is missing. At other times, well-designed studies are needed to uncover risks of formula feeding that include higher chance of developing diabetes, ear infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
While pesticides consumed by humans also find their way into breastmilk, breastfeeding continues to be the best way of ensuring quality control for the smallest members of the planet.
Image source: Time
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