Renowned researcher Michael Kramer, who has advised the World Health Organization and Unicef, said that he was misquoted after being interviewed regarding supposed benefits of breastmilk.
You may remember the post regarding feminist Joan Wolf, who believes there are very few benefits of breastfeeding, very much in the same style of Hanna Rosin.
In the same Times article, Dr. Michael Kramer was “grossly misrepresented”. He said that the Times completely misquoted him and that he still very much believes in the benefits of breastmilk. He is quite angry at being put on the other side of what he sees as part of his life work. From the Independent:
There really isn’t any controversy about which mode of feeding is more beneficial for the baby and the mother, but when you read the article in The Times it sounds like there is. I’m not aware of any studies that have observed any health benefits of formula feeding. That’s important, and any mother weighing the benefits of breastfeeding vs formula feeding needs to know that.
As for the other Times quotes, regarding some breastfeeding benefits he supposedly called “weak”? The McGill researcher was quoted as saying that there was very little evidence to support that breastfeeding is beneficial for anything except a couple of IQ points. But here’s what he actually said,
The existing evidence suggests that breastfeeding may protect against the risk of leukaemia, lymphoma, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure.
He simply asked that these links be studied further, as any researcher do.es in his field (Like, Dude, give me some money and I’ll look into it!) Furthermore, there is one part of the Times article he especially takes exception to: the IQ point question.
Dr. Kramer has been at the forefront of this issue, including research he and a team did last year that showed that breastfed babies did indeed have a higher IQ. The study focused on long-term (1 year) breastfeeding, and they adjusted for the mothers’ IQ and other factors that often bias studies like this. Plus, the study was randomized and had a huge sample: 14,000 children followed for 6.5 years. So it’s understandable that he’d be mighty frustrated with all the misrepresentations.
There is an IQ advantage to breastfeeding by as much as three or four points. It’s not the difference between Einstein and a mental retard at an individual level, but it means having a smarter population on average, fewer children with school difficulties, and more gifted children.
So yes, those who are anti-breastfeeding (or those who simply like to use the inexplicable term “Breastfeeding Nazi”) can stop dancing on the boob grave. It’s not over. It seems that one of the most respected researchers in this field is, indeed, still on the Breastfeeding Team.
Image: Alexander Tundakov on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. Don’t you love that nursee’s smile?!