Sir, - With reference to Catherine Cleary's report on the Milupa baby milk scare (January 25th), the food scientist Dr Hood weakens his endorsement of breastfeeding as the best possible method of feeding infants by introducing the doubt that breastfeeding is not always possible.
Nature makes few mistakes, and only three per cent of women cannot breast feed (WHO figures). Midwives in maternity hospitals are committed to promoting, protecting and supporting breast feeding and they make every effort to lessen the impact of artificial baby milk advertising, but they, and others who daily promote breastfeeding, cannot compete with the highly sophisticated and expensive advertising programmes of the artificial baby milk companies.
An increase in our dismally low breastfeeding rates in Ireland would result in huge savings in healthcare costs due to the protection breast milk gives against many virulent and potentially life threatening infections that are all too prevalent in infancy in the First World, as well as the Third World.
This and the many other health gains associated with breastfeeding surely warrant the Department of Health investing in an equally sophisticated promotion of breastfeeding, which delivers in all respects a vastly superior product to the artificial substitutes. We humans are the only animal species that, in the main, use the milk of a lower species to feed our young. - Yours, etc