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Applebee’s Nurse In

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This story has been brewing for a while and I’ve been a little slow on the uptake. Sorry about that.
So a quick summary: There’s a national nurse in on Saturday, September 8th at Applebee’s locations across the country. It all started when an Applebee’s employee in Kentucky asked a mom to stop nursing. Here’s a good summary of the incident at Breastfeeding123. There’s also a fantastic map of the nurse ins…so far there are 51 locations in 27 states.
Now, if you want to see if there’s a nurse in near you, you can check out this Yahoo Group formed for the event.

Smoking and Breastfeeding

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I had my high school experimentation with cigaretttes. (Sorry, mom). Fortunately I was never a smoker. I know it’s a habit that can be very hard to kick. But if you are smoking and breastfeeding, here’s yet another reason to quit… a new study has found that babies sleep less if their mother smokes. The nicotine in breast milk seems to shorten babies naps by one third.
The study was done by the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Here’s their website, and here’s the link to the press release.
Now some quotes from the press release:
“Infants spent less time sleeping overall and woke up from naps sooner when their mothers smoked prior to breastfeeding,” says lead author Julie A. Mennella, PhD, a psychobiologist at Monell.
The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, raise new questions regarding whether nicotine exposure through breast milk affects infant development….
Total sleep time over the 3-1/2 hours declined from an average of 84 minutes when mothers refrained from smoking to 53 minutes on the day they did smoke, a 37% reduction in infant sleep time. This was due to a shortening of the longest sleep bout, or nap, and to reductions in the amount of time spent in both active and quiet sleep.
The level of sleep disruption was directly related to the dose of nicotine infants received from their mothers’ milk, consistent with a role for nicotine in causing the sleep disruptions….
An earlier study from Mennella’s lab demonstrated that breast milk nicotine levels peak 30 – 60 minutes after smoking one or two cigarettes and clear by three hours after the smoking episode. Emphasizing the many benefits of breastfeeding on infant health and development, Mennella notes that lactating mothers who smoke occasionally can time their smoking episodes to minimize nicotine exposure to their child…

For more on this story go to The Washington Post.
And one final thought…if you can’t quit smoking, it’s still best to continue breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said smoking is not a contraindication to breastfeeding– translation, you can smoke and breastfeed, but you should quit. Here’s some information from Kellymom on smoking and breastfeeding.

Formula Industry Lobbied To Tone Down Government Breastfeeding Ads

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This is a story about big companies and their Washington lobbyists. It could be a story about getting a tunnel built, regulating gas mileage or even securing a military contract. But in this case, it’s about infant formula companies influencing an ad campaign aimed at promoting breastfeeding.
The The Washington Post reported the story yesterday. Here’s a quick summary:
1. The Department of Health and Human Services ran a public health campaign a few years ago to promote breastfeeding. The ads aimed to convince mothers that their infants faced health risks if they did not breastfeed.
2. Some of the original ads showed baby bottle nipples on top of asthma inhalers or insulin dispensers for diabetes. The point of the ads, which included statistics, was that breastfeeding reduces the risk of these diseases.
3. Formula makers lobbied to get the ads changed and they succeeded. The ads were never seen by the public. Instead, they were replaced by pairs of dandelions (ie. breastfeeding reduces asthama), or two scoops of ice cream (breastfeeding reduces obesity), that evoked breasts.
4. Furthermore, HHS did not promote a study by its own Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of multiple studies on breast-feeding, which generally found breastfeeding was associated with fewer ear and gastrointestinal infections, and lower rates of diabetes, leukemia, obesity, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. (To read the report, look in the right hand column of the Post story, in the box that says On The Web, and read “Breastfeeding and Maternal Infant Health.”)
Now here are some paragraphs from The Washington Post story:

The formula industry’s intervention — which did not block the ads but helped change their content — is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month’s testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating allegations from former officials that Carmona was blocked from participating in the breast-feeding advocacy effort and that those designing the ad campaign were overruled by superiors at the formula industry’s insistence.
“This is a credible allegation of political interference that might have had serious public health consequences,” said Waxman, a California Democrat…
Gina Ciagne, the office’s public affairs specialist for the campaign, said, “We were ready to go with our risk-based campaign — making breast-feeding a real public health issue — when the formula companies learned about it and came in to complain. Before long, we were told we had to water things down, get rid of the hard-hitting ads and generally make sure we didn’t somehow offend.”
Ciagne and others involved in the campaign said the pushback coincided with a high-level lobbying campaign by formula makers, which are mostly divisions of large pharmaceutical companies that are among the most generous campaign donors in the nation.
The campaign the industry mounted was a Washington classic — a full-court press to reach top political appointees at HHS, using influential former government officials, now working for the industry, to act as go-betweens
Two of the those involved were Clayton Yeutter, an agriculture secretary under President George H.W. Bush and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Joseph A. Levitt, who four months earlier directed the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition food safety center, which regulates infant formula. A spokesman for the International Formula Council said both were paid by a formula manufacturer to arrange meetings at HHS….
The industry substantially increased its own advertising as soon as the HHS campaign was launched. According to a 2006 report by the Government Accountability Office, formula companies spent about $30 million in 2000 to advertise their products. In 2003 and 2004, when the campaign was underway, infant formula advertising increased to nearly $50 million.

So there you have it. Washington D.C. at its finest. For me, while I think breastfeeding is best, I still it as a matter of personal choice. A mom has to decide what will work best for her and her baby. Even so, it is sickening to see the inner workings of the formula industry. Of course we’re talking about businesses here. And businesses is designed to maximize profits. It’s just a shame that for some companies, doing so can have serious health consequences for our children.