Media chided for sensationalism

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 September, 2008, 12:00am

Media covering the tainted-milk crisis should focus more on promoting breastfeeding skills among mothers and less on sensational stories about alternatives such as renting cows, breast-milk banks and wet nurses, according to an expert.

Ningbo Breastfeeding Association founder Hu Min also lashed out at health authorities, infant-formula businesses and hospitals for their roles in the melamine scandal, which has left 53,000 babies sick.

Mr Hu, who founded the first association of its kind on the mainland last year, cautioned the public against going to extremes in their search for safe sources of nourishment for their children.

Mainland news sources have reported an upsurge in interest in wet nurses in many cities as well as plans to start a breast-milk bank in Ningbo , offering donated breast milk to needy babies.

Many other people are reportedly interested in renting cows to ensure fresh milk for their babies.

'Fresh cow's milk, without sterilisation, is not suitable for babies under the age of two,' Mr Hu said.

'As for the wet nurses thing, people are not aware that a mother's milk is tailor-made for the baby's age. The milk from the mother of a six-month-old child will not have enough nourishment for a two-month-old baby. So wet nurses cannot feed all babies.'

He said breast milk was not something that should be traded, and donated supplies should be used only for premature infants whose mothers were not lactating.

Mr Hu said the media should spurn 'sensational anecdotes' and instead promote mothers' skills in, and raise public awareness of the need for, breastfeeding.

Fewer mainland mothers were breastfeeding because hospitals made money from formula makers, manufacturers misled mothers about the benefits of formula, and inadequate maternity leave forced mothers to rush back to work.