A breastfeeding counselor is being investigated after comparing baby formula to AIDS during a class she was speaking at. Photo via SXC Photo by amdavis
Expectant parents attending a breastfeeding education class were subjected to some shocking commentary by one of the class counselors.
The mommy wars reached a new low point when the acclaimed speaker told the couples that baby formula is “like AIDS.”
“Formula is a little bit like AIDS,” the leading counselor told the group of soon-to-be parents.
“Nobody actually dies from AIDS; what happens is AIDS destroys your immune system and then you just die of anything and that’s what happens with formula. It provides no antibodies.”
“Every 30 seconds a baby dies from infections due to a lack of breastfeeding and the use of bottles, artificial milks and other risky products. Every 30 seconds,” the counselor said.
The counselor, who was speaking at an Australian Breastfeeding Association class, was commended in the ABA’s most recent annual report for taking the highest number of calls to the body’s taxpayer-subsidised National Breastfeeding Helpline. According to other documents obtained by the Courier Mail, the counselor was honored at a branch conference last year and in 2010 helped more than 900 hot-line callers.
Over the past five years, the ABA has received $4.3 million from the Australian Federal Government and its patron is Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
According to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the baby mortality rate cited was “certainly not true in Australia” and could be “highly frightening” for new and expectant parents.
Pediatric and Child Health Division President Susan Moloney said that there are better ways to try and explain the benefits of breastmilk.
“We highly support breastfeeding. It is the optimal form of nutrition for any human infant. But in the cases where it isn’t able to be done, formula feeding is safe in Australia,” Moloney told reporters.
ABA’s president Rachel Fuller said they immediately began an investigation into the counselor’s comments.
“These statements were inappropriate in this situation and the individual concerned has acted outside the instructions and guidelines given,” Fuller said.
“We take such matters seriously and are following this matter up internally today.”
After a complaint was made about a previous session of the class, The Sunday Mail sent an expectant mother undercover to attend a class at the ABA’s office in Brisbane.
In her opening remarks to the class, the counselor said, “Of course, there’s the higher IQ and all of the diseases that you don’t get. We used to talk about all those sorts of things, but we don’t talk about any of those any more.”
“A couple of years ago I broke this leg, quite badly. Nobody said to me ‘we have this wonderful range of wooden legs now’… they fixed the leg,” the counselor continued. “Like wooden-leg salespeople, formula companies would try to promote benefits. That’s what formula is; it’s pure sales pitch. They don’t say ‘look, a baby dies from this product every 30 seconds’… they forget about that bit.”
The Australian Medical Association Queensland president Alex Markwell said that he found the statements to be ”inappropriate” and believed they were ”scaremongering”.
“I just don’t think those comments are helpful in the long term. We have enough evidence that shows breastfeeding is best wherever possible. But women who for whatever reason are unable to breastfeed should not be ostracised,” Dr. Markwell said.
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