Dioxin panic ignores that breast-feeding is best

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 June, 1999, 12:00am

As a mother of an 11-month-old baby I was greatly concerned when I heard about the presence of the cancer-causing chemical dioxin in formulas and baby cereals. However, I was even more shocked about the way the media and health authorities treated the issue.

There was never any comment about the fact that babies would not have been in any danger if they had been breast-fed.

What medical authorities needed to do was not to switch formula brands, but to change the hospital policy about infant feeding, and encourage mothers to breast-feed newborns.

Such a change in policy should be a result not only of this cancer scare. Rather, it should be a result of the overwhelming data indicating that mother's milk contains ideal quantities of proteins, carbohydrates and fat, making it the complete nutritional package for babies.

It is also well known that breast-feeding is protective against a variety of infections, and that it prevents newborn diarrhoea, lowers the incidence of infant meningitis and reduces the frequency of early childhood middle-ear infections.

Mother's milk also has a very positive effect on preventing colds and other respiratory diseases and all the illnesses and hospitalisations that result from these conditions.

I find it sad that this cancer scandal has happened, but maybe it is precisely what Hong Kong society needs to change attitudes about breast-feeding.

Mothers should question their paediatrician about the health benefits mentioned above, and should realise that the best thing they can do for their infant is to breast-feed him/her. I am relieved that my baby has been fed only the purest and best of all milks: his own mother's milk.