Organic Baby Formula

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I was recently asked my opinion on a discussion about organic baby formula taking place on a neonatal news group for clinical professionals.

First a little background about the discussion. Abbott, maker of the baby formula Similac, has started to market Similac Organic Baby formula. Just like with Abbott’s original Similac formula, one of the ways the company markets their products is by making free samples available to parents and hospital neonatal units. Apparently Abbott’s research has told them that there is such a demand for organic formula that new parents will want to bring an organic formula product into the hospital nursery on their own if organic formula is not available to them directly from the hospital. Hospitals feel better in terms of safety and consistency if they provide the formula in-house rather than letting parents bring in their own. Abbott obviously feels that it is cost effective marketing to provide free formula to hospitals.

The discussion on the news group was originated by a question about whether the organic formula had any real, proved benefits. One of the responses was from a MD who, while fully supporting healthy food availability, questioned the “health benefit claims made by the rapidly flourishing organic food industry”. This MD also expressed uncertainty over whether the organic food industry is “well regulated.” Another response, by a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, thought the organic baby formula is “yet another marketing ploy by the formula companies”. This person also said that “If a patient is going to buy organic formula, perhaps they should consider breastfeeding”.

Responding to the NNP first… Yes, for many reasons, including the health of the baby, new mothers should be strongly encouraged to breast feed. For those mothers who won’t or can’t breast feed and for those babies that can’t nurse, formula is the other option. And, to the NNP’s other comment, yes, it is marketing. The real question is whether or not the marketing of the Similac organic formula is misleading. In Abbott’s case, I don’t think it is. There do not seem to be any health or medical claims on Abbott’s site. The MD who questioned the claims of the organic food producers really addresses a different issue that I will take up in another post, but again, Abbott’s site seems free of questionable claims.

The MD’s other concern is about the organic food industry not being well regulated. Right now, to me, the industry seems well regulated. My concern is that as huge companies like Wal-Mart start to sell organic products, there will be pressure on organizations such as the USDA, Oregon Tilth, and CCOF to adjust their certification programs to more easily accommodate large scale industrial farming practices that want to produce organically certified food without the sustainable, earth friendly practices that smaller organic food producers are known for. Doing a search to see if my concerns about this are shared, turned up lots of information, including a supportive New York Times Editorial. I also found this article that disagrees. I plan another post specifically on that issue. As it is said, “the jury is still out” on how the wide scale embrace of organic food will change, or not change, the way food in America is produced, and then transported from producers to consumers.

Many parents, who are comfortable feeding their newborns formula, want a product made from milk free of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals. These parents believe that consuming organic food is healthier for themselves and their families. If the demand is there, Abbot is to be applauded for providing an organic formula product. Despite the efforts of big box companies to sell organic food, organic usually still means healthy and sustainable farming practices and that is a good thing!

I believe Similac Organic Formula is a great move by Abbott, both for their bottom line, and for parents who want the choice available to them.

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Will Sig
1 Jay Burgess

Being a stay at home dad, picking the right products for my baby is a big priority.

I agree that organic formula is a better alternative, but as one doctor pointed out, there are no guarantees. Since the industry is not highly regulated, who is to say what is organic and what isn’t?

In the end, the only way to know for sure what you are feeding your baby is to grow your own food. But of course this is not an option for many of us. My advice is to do the best you can. Most of us have good parental instincts, your baby will be fine.

Jay

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2 Will

Hi Jay! Well you got the prize on this one year old post. It has been one of the top search engine returned posts on the site, yet it has not had a comment up to now. Kind of strange, but glad to see it finally get one!

One thing I think needs to be done for sure with small children is to buy organic as much as possible and to wash all produce very well. That will make a difference.

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3 organic baby

In the end, the only way to know for sure what you are feeding your baby is to grow your own food. But of course this is not an option for many of us. My advice is to do the best you can. Most of us have good parental instincts, your baby will be fine.

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4 maria

ITS VERY SIMPLE..CANADA AND EUROPE DID NOT ALLOW THE MONTESANO GROWTH HORMONE IN THEIR MILK…AND THEY DONT ALLOW HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP…..SO IF THAT MANY CIVILIZED COUNTRIES HAVE DOUBTS..I TAKE THERE RIGHT !!ITS NOT LIKE OUR COUNTRIES FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTARTION ISNT BOUGHT BY LOBBYISTS…INCLUDING DOCTORS….SO I BUY BABY FORMULA ORGANIC FROM CANADA………NOT TO MENTION BPH IN PLASTICS..ESPECIALLY BABY BOTTLES ALSO FORBIDDEN IN OTHER CIVILIZED NATIONS ……PEOPLE IN AMERICA NEED TO WAKE UP…………

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5 Organic Baby Clothes

Thank you for defending organics. It is true this is a growing trend right now, but health- and enviro- conscious people have been choosing organic and sustainable products for a long time. “Marketing” means bigger companies are realizing it is profitable to offer organic products because of the growing demand and they are responding. But this is not just some label they can just put on without getting the right ingredients. But I agree with the author, as it gets bigger, there may be pressure from the biggest companies to relax the meaning of ‘organic,’ whereas smaller companies self-enforce much better because they really care about the organic movement, rather than just meeting the minimum labeling requirements.

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6 Anak Inya

Yup, I totally agree. My whole family is taking organic food and my youngest baby is taking organic food too. Healthy life.

Thanks for sharing.
.-= Anak Inya´s last blog ..When to introduce solid food to your baby? =-.

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7 Megan Schroeder

Maria….very well stated. I couldn’t have said it better myself. For those parents who think it’s “too expensive” to go Organic now…just wait…you’ll spend that tenfold on your child’s healthcare due to negligent, small minded thinking! How can a parent truly put a “COST” on their childs health?!?!

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8 Keith

Will,
US corporatist interests will, repeat will, find a way to dilute what “organic” means, and will also continue to charge a premium when that label is attached to food or clothing. That is how the corporations became the elite US citizens that they are today.
And anyone who has ever been in Wal*Mart knows the only motivation that abomination has: the bottom line. It will sell out to increase that bottom line, as they “ALWAYS” have.
Cheaper is not better. And better is rarely cheaper. Industrial products are rarely better than hand crafted by a person.
The FDA is practically owned and operated by those corporations they are supposed to regulate. Revolving doors between the two guarantee that regulations are designed to hamper competition, not protect the public.
I do not see that ending as long as corporate interests control elected public servants.

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