August "ALERT" 2001
A couple of days ago the TV show, Good Morning America, aired a segment
The Bottle vs. Breast-feeding Debate.
We respectfully suggest that it is a good time to send your opinion to ABC
News about the broadcast. A link is provided at the bottom of this
Just below you will find a letter from Elena M. Byrne, Ph.D. which states
Elenas objections to the broadcast and below that a copy of the article
on the ABC News website.
LETTER FROM Elena M. Byrne, Ph.D.
August 21, 2001
Good Morning, America was more of a slap in the face than a morning
today. Their bubbly medical contributor-turned-anchor, Nancy Snyderman,
proudly stirred up the controversy among parents regarding the issue of
breast versus bottle-feeding. Unfortunately, Dr. Snyderman acted as if her
medical credentials mattered in this issue, but the lack of any factual
information in the segment made it clear that she was merely acting as a
shameless network puppet, hoping to maximize ratings and provoke more
As a mother of three who holds a doctorate in the field of nutrition, I
that this piece did a disservice to the mothers involved in the show and
the parents out in the world unfortunate enough to be exposed to it. As
several of the moms stated, we all need to recognize that judging others
does not help, and that itıs clear that parents clearly make choices
on what they think is best for their specific situation. What is needed,
and could have been provided by GMA if the true interest of parents had
considered, is a segment that provides informed commentary by a variety of
experts in nutrition, psychology, and sociology, as this is truly a
issue that spans these disciplines.
Particularly troubling this morning was Dr. Snydermanıs inability to
if she was acting as discussion mediator or topic expert. Her comment to
the mom who nursed for 25 months ("Didnıt you feel just a little
absolutely inappropriate and ignorant. Ironically though, it served as a
glaring example of just what the representative from BabyTalk Magazine was
reporting: that breast-feeding mothers bear the brunt of social scorn.
Unfortunately, this short segment did not do justice to the topic and only
served to stir up more problems. The mother who was so proud of her
decision to not breastfeed and was indignant that healthcare providers
try to intervene is feeling just a little of what breastfeeding mothers
been feeling for decades, since the 1960ıs when medical doctors went to
great lengths to discourage breastfeeding. It was disturbing to me that
would state on national television, without rebuttal or correction, that
formula was as good as breast milk for a babyıs health. Any nutrition
scientist who studies the components of baby formula will admit that while
formula is a good substitute for breast milk, there are still differences
and controversies regarding some of the more unstable components of breast
milk that are difficult to put in a formula without harming its
Also missing from the presentation was the important information about the
physiological effects of breastfeeding. The role of breastfeeding in
bonding was absolutely ridiculed by Dr. Snyderman and others on the
yet there is physiological evidence to show that what is called bonding is
actually a physical phenomenon. Of course there are other ways to bond
babies, but it needs to be understood that if you purposefully donıt
breastfeed, you are turning off one of the connections to the baby that
nature has intended. There are other aspects to this issue such as babyıs
jaw development and the additional brain Owiringı that goes along with
tactile nature of breastfeeding.
It was clear from the GMA show today, August 21, 2001, that ratings were
main interest, not helping parents dealing with these troubling and
important issues. I would hope that this would become clear to the
producers enough to warrant a follow-up segment long enough to approach
issues, both physical and psychological, in a fair, well-mannered, and
informative way. Please join me in writing to them to show that we deserve
Elena M. Byrne, Ph.D.
PO Box 222
Mazomanie, WI 53560
ARTICLE FROM THE ABC NEWS WEBSITE
N E W Y O R K, Aug. 21 Mention the term breast-feeding in a large
group of new mothers and soon the room could be teeming with insults and
For years a debate has simmered between women who breast-feed and women
who feed their babies formula from a bottle. The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends a full year of breast-feeding, and earlier this year
the World Health Organization called for at least six months of
WHO research showed that exclusive breast-feeding for six months, without
supplemental formula, decreases diarrhea and respiratory and ear
infections, and improves brain growth.
Formula-Fed? Poor Babies
A national survey in the new issue of Baby Talk magazine garnered 36,000
responses and reveals just how divided the two camps are. (E-mail us your
opinion.) Among breast-feeding mothers, 75 percent support formula
feeding, but that seems to be their surface reaction only.
The survey also showed that 66 percent of the breast-feeders felt sorry
for formula-fed babies, and 33 percent said they thought their
bottle-feeding counterparts are "selfish and lazy."
Nearly all of the formula-feeding mothers, 92 percent, support
breast-feeding, and most of them, 63 percent, said they have never been
criticized by their breast-feeding peers. Among those who were criticized,
about half said they were angry or frustrated about the criticism, but the
other half said they just didn't care.
Dirty Looks, Snide Remarks
Meanwhile, 83 percent of breast-feeding moms reported that they felt
criticized by the moms who use bottles. Much of the criticism takes the
form of looks of disapproval or derogatory remarks from other mothers
while they are nursing in public, the poll found.
Most of the women 65 percent used formula because of the
inconvenience of breast-feeding, especially if they were going back to
work. Most women receive a maternity leave of only six to eight weeks,
which is barely enough time to get comfortable about breast-feeding.
Furthermore, many of the women surveyed by BabyTalk reported that their
employers make it difficult to pump breast milk at work, and their
husbands discourage breast-feeding because they fear it will interfere
with their sex lives.
According to a Surgeon General's report issued last year, some 64 percent
of American women breast-feed during their infants' first weeks to month
of life. That's better than the 50 percent who breast-fed a decade ago,
but it missed the government's goal of having 75 percent of mothers
breast-feeding newborns in 2000.
Please go to the ABC News website and voice your opinions in email.
Here is a direct link to the article:
But if that URL is too long, you can go to http://abcnews.go.com/Sections/GMA/
then scroll down to the link for "Mom vs. Mom" on their website.
Click and you can read the interesting article. But, most important, drag
down to the bottom of the page where you can email your opinion to ABC.
Imagine if all 2,000 subscribers to this newsletter sent in opinions
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