What the statistics say vs. real life

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-16-2009
What the statistics say vs. real life
10
Wed, 09-01-2010 - 7:38pm

Do your personal experiences reflect what the statistics say about the risks of FFing? Or the benefits of BFing?

I think a lot of people are swayed by their personal experiences over scientific studies and statistics. How can a woman be convinced to breastfeed when she hasn't seen any evidence FIRST-HAND that FFing is risky to a baby's health and overall well-being?



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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2003
Wed, 09-01-2010 - 11:07pm

I have noticed that my children suffer fewer/shorter illnesses than their FF cousins.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Wed, 09-01-2010 - 11:40pm

There's no way for me to tell. My mother's generation were bf'd, but they have many illnesses, and also other contributing factors (the two siblings with immune disorders, are the two who experienced the most significant emotional/physical abuse, they are the two with divorces, more stress in their lives, etc). My generation was mostly ff'd, some of us are healthy, some are not. Most of the next generation (my kids, my sisters kids, etc) has been bf'd in varying amounts, and they are too young to tell about long-term health outcomes. My YDD has an immune disorder, but that could be primarily genetic. I have one, it could be being ff'd or a host of other things (I also had a stressful childhood with the death of one parent and the other being very sick for a long time).

Among my own kids there haven't been much illness, but the same can be said for my stepkids. The only one that really jumps out at me as possibly going along with the statistics is my youngest stepson, he was exclusively ff'd from birth and is the only one in his family to have eczema. Other than that, which it's a pretty mild case just every now and then he needs some cortisone for a short time, he is just as healthy as his brother who was bf'd 6 months, as his brother who was bf'd 6 weeks, and my ODD who was bf'd 23 months. There is no history of significant or severe ear infections, gastrointestinal issues, pneumonia, or hospitalization for any of the older kids. When things like colds and flu come through our house, the stepkid who was nursed 6 months seems to be the one who gets sick the most and the most severely ill, but there again, another cause would be the emotional abuse he endures in his other home, which seems to affect him more than the other boys.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2009
Thu, 09-02-2010 - 8:46am

>>>>


Do your personal experiences reflect what the statistics say about the risks of FFing? Or the benefits of BFing?


>>>>


My real life experience is skewed because I have only known one baby that didn't get some breastmilk, all the other babies I know got breastmilk at least for 2 or 3 months. I haven't seen where BFing for 4 years makes a difference when compared to BFing for only a

Lee

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2010
Thu, 09-02-2010 - 10:19am

Yes and no. My kids are still young, and their FF cousins are still young, but I have found that my BF kids have had very few illnesses so far, and have met or exceeded their milestones. I'm not bragging, just stating the facts ma'am. ;-) My kids' FF cousins on one side have both had many illnesses; one has permanent hearing loss due to constant ear infections and the fact that his parents neglected to bring in a specialist when it became obvious that he had speech problems. He's in kindergarten now and I can STILL barely understand him. He is not in any kind of speech therapy; his parents think it's cute that he still talks like a 2 year old....


The FF cousins on the other side are older; all have had braces, 2 wear glasses, one has pretty severe asthma.

Kevali


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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2004
Thu, 09-02-2010 - 10:48am

I usually look at my own kids in terms of how much worse things could be if they hadn't been BF, especially my son. My daughter is generally healthier and seems more developmentally "normal" than he has along the way.

But he has been on daily antibiotic prophylaxis since he was three days old, and also needs to take daily Miralax supplements, which he's had since he was 9 months old. He has congenital structural defects of his kidneys and ureters and also neurological issues related to his bladder and bowel function, also congenital. He was "late" on every single physical milestone there is, and was a very late talker. He needed Early Intervention speech therapy for over a year, and at five, he still has a pronounced speech impediment, and I will be pursuing in-school speech therapy when he starts kindergarten in the public schools next year.

He nursed until he was four, and was rarely sick during that time, but in the 11 months since he weaned himself, he's had at least 10 distinct illnesses such as colds, flus (including H1N1) and stomach viruses; this coincided with his first year in preschool as well. I have hated having him sick so often, and I certainly despise having to give him antibiotics every day of his life, and dealing with developmental issues, but I console myself with the knowledge that being BF may have made things better for him, because it may have reduced the risk of much bigger problems occurring.

OTOH, while his motor and speech development has been rocky, he has been reading since the age of three, and now at five is reading (and fully comprehending) "chapter books" written for second grade and up, and he knows all the basic addition, subtraction and multiplication facts. He can add and subtract fractions in his head. He can also tell you how a simple electrical circuit works, how batteries work, and how engines operate. He is currently obsessed with catapults and trebuchets.

He is a very unusual child indeed, especially since he was such a late walker and talker, and I've had to deal with a number of therapists who find his combination of strengths and weaknesses to be somewhat alarming. That aspect has been frustrating; he just has a very analytical personality and he wants to know more about everything, so we tell him. In turn, he learns quickly and very thoroughly, when something interests him a lot. He's just like his father, the engineer. DH tells me he's already saving money for tuition at MIT. ;O)

Anyway, I think of my son as an example when I'm trying to give someone an idea of the risks of NOT committing to BF. He's basically a healthy child, but without BF, I really think we'd be dealing with a very sickly little boy, and I also feel that having been BF has helped make his developmental issues less of a problem, and that his natural curiosity (combined with his parents' willingness to foster a good environment for learning) was only helped by being BF.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2010
Thu, 09-02-2010 - 12:38pm

It's hard for me to say, but I think so.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-21-2007
Thu, 09-02-2010 - 5:10pm

I think this is one of those things it is impossible to tell.

On the illness front, my son seems much healthier than nearly all babies I have known, FF or BF, and he was almost exclusively FF'ed (apart from nursing/pumping small amounts for one month). He has not yet had an illness that needed medical attention, and the only illness he has had has been one fairly mild cold (stuffy nose, sneezing, one night of a mild fever). No infections, no skin problems, etc. My husband has a really great immune system and I think he inherited it.

He does have a speech delay, and has received speech therapy through Early Intervention (we recently moved states and hope to start it again, although he has made great gains and my not qualify). If I were to guess whether BF would have prevented it, I would guess it wouldn't have made a difference, but there is no way to tell for sure.



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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
Sat, 09-04-2010 - 2:13am

My real-life experience conforms to the statistics overall at least in terms of short-term risks but I realize that I know to few babies well enough to draw any definitive conclusions based on that and as such I would take the same position on the health risks of formula even if my real-life experience was the opposite. Most of the babies I know fairly well are BF'd and the few FF babies I know well are generally conform to the statistics in terms of risk. When an FF'rs tries to claim that the babies they know do not conform to what is said by BF advocates about the risks of formula, I point out the FF babies I know do and ask them to explain why their experience is more valid then mine and none seem to be able to come up with a good answer. They just continue to try and insist that if formula was truly risky then they should see it among the babies they know.




Edited 9/4/2010 2:38 am ET by charleen2008

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2009
Sat, 09-04-2010 - 10:34am

>>>>


When an FF'rs tries to claim that the babies they know do not conform to what is said by BF advocates about the risks of formula, I point out the FF babies I know do and ask them to explain why their experience is more valid then mine and none seem to be able to come up with a good answer.


>>>>


Neither experience is more valid than the other, both are still anecdotal and clearly very influential.

Lee

Lee

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 09-04-2010 - 11:05pm

To a large degree, I am just so resistant to go there, KWIM?

As I understand the statistics, it wouldn't necessarily be evident from the number of people I know to reach any reasonable conclusions.

While I consider the risk of choosing to use formula a big deal, I do not believe it is big "enough" to show an impact on the limited number of people that I know to have breastfeed or not.

I remember, years ago, people telling me that eating "fat" didn't make you "fat". The texture of beef or pork fat creeped my out as a kid, and many adults tried to tell me that nutritionally it was OK. In 2010, that logic has been discredited. Fat is now believed to be loaded in calories and limited in nutrition.

I believe, that if I were to think about people I know to have been formula or breastfed, it would only serve to perpetuate any biases that I might already have. For example, my exclusively ffed nephew has Type I diabetes and no other family member does. No other member of his generation has it. What does that mean statistically? Nothing. There are only 4 other kids and none of them have the same father and mother. The "N" is too small. Me saying that it matters would be the same as all the lurkers who say "my child is just fine". One of the other five in the generation who was not exclusively breastfed has severe asthma. What does that mean? Nothing. There are only four other kids in that boat and only one of them has the same father and mother. One of the other five is overweight. What does that mean? Nothing. Although he was exclusively breastfed, there is only one other child in the group who has the same mother and father. One is female, one is blond, one has brown eyes...none of which matters.

I believe that, just like beliefs about smoking decades ago, there are many people who were exclusively formula fed that are apparently, "just fine". However, I also believe that when,statistically , you take large numbers of people and compare them, breastfed people are WAAAY healthier.

IOW, I don't believe that I know enough people to make any sense of the validity of the differences between bfed and ffed people. I do, however, believe that the current science is accurate. On the whole, there are notable differences between bfed and ffed people, healthwise. So, if you can, DO. If you can't, you can't. Either way, society should support moms to help them breastfeed.






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