news on medieval nursing

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
news on medieval nursing
5
Wed, 09-03-2003 - 10:47am
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1027937,00.html

Wolds find proves medieval babies stayed healthy for longer on mother's milk

Martin Wainwright

Saturday August 23, 2003

The Guardian

A study of infant bones from a deserted medieval village has given backing

to the ancient nursing nostrum that "breast is best".

Evidence from Wharram Percy in the Yorkshire Wolds, abandoned when almost

everyone was killed by the Black Death, shows that unweaned children were as

healthy as their modern counterparts.

Malnutrition, disease and other curses of peasant life in the 10th to 14th

centuries set in when children left the breast - which appears to have

happened later than is usually the case today.

Results from nitrogen isotopes in the bones show children were still taking

breast milk at 18 months, although by then their diet included food and

water, much of which was sub-standard or contaminated.

"Stunted growth really started after this point," said Simon Mays, a human

skeletal biologist with English Heritage, who has carried out the study with

archaeologists from Bradford and Oxford universities.

"Conditions thereafter were so poor that adults in Wharram Percy continuing

to grow until their late 20s, in order to make up for the slow start, as

opposed to the modern figure of about 18 years old."

The study, the latest contribution to a huge archive of discoveries from

Wharram Percy, which has been studied since Victorian times, backs up

theories that the medieval countryside was even more unhealthy than squalid,

crowded towns.

Dr Mays said: "Growth rates of infants at Wharram Percy suggest conditions

even worse than those of slum dwelling Victorian workhouse children."

Breastfeeding was a rare but inevitably short-lived natural defence against

the general bleakness of life in the village, where only a church and dozens

of grassy hummocks remain.

Dr Mays said: "It promoted infant health because milk contains important

natural ingredients that strengthen the immune system. But in medieval times

it also enabled children to avoid contaminated food and water. This was a

major source of disease in villages like Wharram Percy."

The analysis used new techniques in analysing the isotopes, including a mass

spectrometer which weighed individual atoms. From the mass of scientific

data, a picture of "a terrible struggle for existence" emerged.

Dr Mays said: "While being breastfed, these infants grew as well as modern

babies, but when it stopped, the environment made its baleful impact.

Extended breastfeeding shielded children from the very high level of infant

mortality we might otherwise expect to see."

The findings also suggest that medical advice, which in medieval times

included belief in the Roman doctor Soranus's recommendation of extended

breast-feeding, was being followed at village level. Evidence confirms that

feeding and the use of wet-nurses was the norm.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust,

said:"Women in the medieval period had the advantage of living in a culture

that was particularly supportive of breastfeeding and where experienced

breastfeeders could offer help to the new mother. Sadly, that's very

different from now."

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-10-2003
Fri, 09-12-2003 - 6:37pm
You actually believe this crock!! Why are so many of breastfeed mommys give us bottlefeeders guilt trips. My son is perfectly healthy and he is drinking. "Ouick call the breastfeeding police" Either way our babies are been feed..
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 09-12-2003 - 9:08pm
I don't think it's a "crock" at all...I think it's quite fair. But as for guilt trips...I never said anyone had to feel guilty about anything. If THEY decide they have something to feel guilty about, so be it...it's not my fault (or anyone else's): only a person who thinks they have something to feel guilty about will get uptight and actually FEEL guilty/defensive. If they don't they let it slide and don't think anything of it.

Fio.

Avatar for wendy1221
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 09-13-2003 - 11:26am
How is that article a crock? It's a sound archaological study. I mean really, why do you say it's a crock??? Nutrition wasn't anything NEAR what we have today, but breastmilk was still the same (the perfect food for babies). And they didn't have formula, so if a baby wasn't breastfed, it was given cow's or goat's milk (sometimes even horse or dog) or solids. Definitely not even close to the nutrition in formula, let alone breastmilk. OBVIOUSLY, that's not the situation in a rich country like ours (whether you're from Canada or the US or wherever, I don't think there are any posters from 3rd world countries here) in this day and age. Obviously, breast is still best, but babies aren't going to suffer as much, if at all, as they did then if they're not breastfed. Sheesh! Some people really can't handle knowing that they're not doing the absolute best and that's really not a good reason to call real scientific studies crocks, IMO. Maybe feeding your baby formula these days isn't deadly anymore, and the kids are just as healthy for the most part, but that doesn't mean breastmilk isn't better and these studies are crocks!

Wendy

Avatar for queen_brat
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 09-13-2003 - 1:00pm
Ok I didnt read the whole thing. It was to long and well waht was the point? We know in medievil times babies thrilled on bm and failed on anything else. Wasnt that why there were wet nurses? To give babies the best if mommy couldnt or wouldnt? It just doesn't protain to today. Formula is around and has improved greatly over the years. I am very pro breatfedding but even more so pro choice. I dont think the artical is a crock. I know the point Foi was trying to make with it but I dont agree seeing as things were much different back then. Any number of things could have come into play on why babies didnt do well on anything other then bm. Like unsterilized bottles or it being dogs milk. How about unclean water? Yes bm is best but it isnt always possible and I am greatful that there is an alternative and that many women do not feel bad using it or we would have alot less cute babies to look at.

April


Image hosted by Photobucket.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 09-13-2003 - 11:10pm
These specific sentences were what I found interesting...:

"Malnutrition, disease and other curses of peasant life in the 10th to 14th

centuries set in when children left the breast - which appears to have

happened later than is usually the case today.

Results from nitrogen isotopes in the bones show children were still taking

breast milk at 18 months, although by then their diet included food and

water, much of which was sub-standard or contaminated.



Dr Mays said: "While being breastfed, these infants grew as well as modern

babies, but when it stopped, the environment made its baleful impact.

Extended breastfeeding shielded children from the very high level of infant

mortality we might otherwise expect to see." "

It was the fact that they nursed a fair length of time.

Fio.