The Bottle Feeding Epidemic And Killer Baby Formula

“Suck, baby! suck! mother’s love grows by giving.” —Charles Lamb, 1829

In A Nutshell

In the late 1800s, questionable application of evolutionary theory convinced women they were “evolving” out of breastfeeding. Bottle feeding was seen as a more civilized, modern alternative. Unfortunately, the cow’s milk substituted for breast milk was rarely pasteurized and of such poor quality it led to a horrific increase in infant mortality in the United States.

The Whole Bushel

Breastfeeding had a number of things working against it in the Victorian-era United States. Sigmund Freud’s theory held that infants suckling at their mothers’ teats were exhibiting incestuous desires. In response to both Freud’s theory and “evolution,” Victorian mothers substituted bottle-feeding for the breast.

Forward-thinking mothers believed bottle feeding to be the future of child rearing. They also assumed recently invented “scientific” baby formulas and “treated” cow’s milk represented a healthier alternative to simple breast milk. They were wrong. The cow’s milk from which most infant formulas were derived was typically unpasteurized. The milk that mothers fed their children was frequently spoiled and riddled with bacteria.

During the 1890s in Chicago, Illinois, one study found 15 “hand-fed” babies were dying for each breast-fed infant. The medical community responded with one of the most aggressive public health campaigns in history. In Minneapolis, for example, the Breast Feeding Investigation Bureau of the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Minnesota was formed to assist every new mother in the area with any lactation-related issues. Posters and literature touting the benefits of breastfeeding became de rigueur across American cities. While breastfeeding never reached the levels physicians hoped for, they were able to make enormous, corrective strides to reduce infant mortality rates in the US and spurred on a successful campaign for pasteurized cow’s milk.

Show Me The Proof

The New Yorker: If breast is best, why are women bottling their milk?
Low Breastfeeding Rates and Public Health in the United States

  • Maria Jean Hostetler

    Wow, good thing this is 2013 and not 1890. My 5 year old hasn’t been
    sick in 2 1/2 years, my 6 month old has never been sick. Both formula
    fed. I know of at least 3 babies who have needed surgery for ear
    infections before the age of 18 months. All 100% breast fed. So…. this
    whole thing is completely out of date and ignorant.

    • Dustin Holmes

      You are an idiot. Read up on the facts. I bet things are rough only having your GED so just google breast milk.

      • Maria Jean Hostetler

        I have, and the facts have stated there is no scientific evidence that breast milk causes any baby to be smarter or healthier than any formula fed baby. My children are extremely healthy, of healthy weights, very bright, absolutely no medical problems like asthma or diabetes. So I’d say they did fabulous on formula. THAT’S my research! And, as a man, you have no idea how hard, and sometimes impossible, breastfeeding can be. So, let’s not name call like children.

      • Maria Jean Hostetler

        My nephew, on the other hand, had so many ear infections and other illnesses that he had his tonsils and adenoids removed AND tubes in his ears at about 16 or 17 months old. Strictly breastfed, still being breastfed now and he’ll be 2 in January. So…. that’s also my research.

    • ElBandito

      My sister was born lactose intolerant. so she was lucky to be born during a time when soy powder milk formula was invented, otherwise we’d be in a huge trouble trying to keep her fed. It was also a good thing when after WWII, many countries outside of the US looked forward to receiving free powder milk formula. Because of rationing, many of the inner-city mothers were underweight and unable to provide enough milk to their own infants, so the Red Cross and the Salvation Army had a field day giving one glass a day to each family. Supposedly, it made a difference to many people.

  • Sky

    And now….the doctors in general encourage feeding the lab created, derived from cow milk stuff and you’re a freak if you breastfeed. oh, how things change for the better!

    • Maria Jean Hostetler

      Actually, in my formula-feeding experience, breastfeeding mothers are held up on a pedestal and us formula feeders are fed this garbage about how we are poisoning our unloved children.

  • inconspicuous detective

    breastfeeding is supposed to be good for kids, though i’ve never heard of anything about formula hurting them.

  • Sinem Bagdas

    I’ve actually studies the effects of breast feeding versus the bootle, during my studies in nursing. In has actually been proven that breast milk is best when it comes to enhancing the babies immune system. The bottle formulas do not contain some of the necessary key ingredients that a baby would need in developing in the healthiest way possible. Bottle feeding isn’t really bad for a baby, but breast feeding would be best.

  • Marikilla

    Good job, thanks. You can see my post in spanish Cómo quitar los cólicos en los bebés y factores que los provocan