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September 10, 2012 ·  By Fr. Shay Cullen


by Fr. Shay Cullen
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)


To promote life and the well being of new born children, we have to take a stand to see that they have the best of nutrition and health. Children can have a stronger immune system, resist illness and develop greater intelligence when they are exclusively fed on mother’s milk up to the ideal 36 months of life. It is estimated that 1.3 million children could be saved from death in the first five years of life if they were fed exclusively on mother’s milk. Artificial cow’s milk powder known as baby formula deprives the immune system of life-protecting strength.

A proposed law in the Philippines, supported by the multinational makers of artificial baby milk formulas would undermine the mother’s milk is best practice. The draft law will reduce the high standard of 36 months breast-feeding as recommended to a paltry 6 months which is not sufficient for full protection of the child.

The commercial companies peddling their milk formulas want to get kids and mothers hooked on their expensive products. They know once a baby tastes the bottled formula, it gets dependent and cries non-stop to get more of it. So it is essential to continue breast-feeding without resorting to the bottled cow’s milk which cannot give the same protection against disease.

The position of the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and child rights advocates is that any change in the existing law will endanger children.

These agencies, together with UNICEF, made a statement that the proposed law will undo the protective measures of children in the existing laws and their implementing rules and regulations. The draft house bill is inappropriately named and aims to support multinational companies while damaging the Filipino families, mothers and children.

In previous statements, Unicef has said “Marketing practices that undermine breast-feeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute.”

Mother’s milk is Best campaign is trying to bring Filipino mothers back to the natural way of feeding their new born children. It is so essential for a healthy, happy child to grow to be an intelligent, physically active teenager that has close bonds with his or her parents and siblings.

This is because the physical, psychological and spiritual bonding that comes from the contact of the new born baby to the source of life and love is irreplaceable. So it is more than just nutrition that contributes to the development of a healthy intelligent human person but the fact that life support is direct from the comfort and security of the womb to the comfort and security of a mother’s arms.

The loving mother while breast-feeding conveys more than life-giving nourishment but expressions of love through hugs, singing lullabies, giving kisses, caresses, cuddles, eye and smile contact – all are essential for full human development.

The touching and physical contact given as part of breast feeding is essential to the psychological development as well as physical well being of the baby. Sticking a bottle in the baby’s mouth and then leaving the baby alone lying in a cot deprives the baby of all that is human and natural.

The child suffers acute feelings of abandonment and hopelessness and some cry until they die. This infant death syndrome, some experts say, could be caused by acute feelings of loneliness or abandonment.

Expressions of bonding and togetherness are needed into adolescence and adulthood. Married couples, friends, and children – all treasure and need such human contact too as a reassurance and confirmation of acceptance, love and friendship. Physical affection and contact re-enforces and gives expression to spiritual kinship; they are natural and necessary for mature and happy human relationships.

Breast-feeding is a basic right since it gives life-long protection against disease. Milk formula is not a breast in a bottle; it satisfies none of the essential natural needs of the baby: love, caring, nutrition. It just adds fat and may predispose a child to obesity in later life. We have to take a stand against this draft bill and protect the children from those driven by greed that put profits before parents and their children.




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