This Woman's World

at the intersection of feminism, motherhood, and life

Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category


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I tend not to pay too much attention to the latest studies involving breastfed vs. formula fed babies; I’ve made my choice, and it is what is it. However, there was a Dutch study published in the journal Pediatrics, from the American Academy of Pediatrics that I want to talk about. Actually, I don’t want to talk about the study; I want to talk about the headline:

Prolonged and Exclusive Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Infectious Diseases in Infancy

Lets turn this around a bit, shall we?

Formula Feeding Increases the Risk of Infections Diseases in Infancy

Two sides of the same coin, really, but the distinction is very important. The first headline implies that formula feeding is the norm, and that we accept a certain risk with that norm. It implies that the baseline for infant health is derived from formula fed babies.

The second headline sets breastfeeding as the norm and sets the baseline at healthy.

Why is the wording important? Well, because the inferred meaning of language can be insidiously persuasive. When formula is used as the norm, then breastfeeding becomes abnormal. Things that are abnormal require justification, garner stares, and are marginalized culturally.

I don’t think any parents should have to justify the choices they make about feeding their infants, but I also think that when formula feeding is presented as it is in this headline, it becomes the standard. And the standard should be the safest and best. And since breastfeeding is the safest and best – as the study shows – the headline should reflect this.


Written by this woman

July 21, 2010 at 7:45 PM