Can You Do Half Formula And Half Breast Milk History of Breast Milk Substitutes and How They Came About

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History of Breast Milk Substitutes and How They Came About

Throughout history, each generation has had to develop an alternative method of breastfeeding, either because the mother did not have enough milk or chose not to breastfeed. Scientific literature and history tell us of centuries old efforts to meet the nutritional needs of infants and replicate the composition and benefits of breast milk.

In early cultures, infant mortality was high. Like other mammals, only the heaviest baby, cared for by its mother, survived. In ancient cultures, early doctors encouraged breastfeeding. If for some reason, the mother could not breastfeed, wet breastfeeding – instead of older women who are breastfeeding instead of the birth mother – is recommended for those who can afford it. Ancient paintings show us that those who could not find a wet nurse depended on the milk of domestic animals, such as donkeys, camels and goats. Earthen feeding vessels, designed to transport milk from an animal to a child, have been found in ancient tombs and ruins. Historians of spartan times report that the succession to the throne was interrupted and given to the younger son because he was breastfed and his older brother was wet.

Little about infant feeding was written between antiquity and the Renaissance. During the Middle Ages, wet breastfeeding was the choice of mothers who were unable to breastfeed. Another article for children about breastfeeding describes the signs of a good wet nurse and information about constipation, diarrhea and vomiting. In the late 1500s, scientists described the therapeutic value of human milk not only for babies, but also for men and women who have grown up. They also recommended the use of donkey milk as a substitute for breast milk, if the mother wanted it. If the baby was not breastfed, wet food made of ground honey mixed with cereal flour or bread crumbs was poured into the cow’s horn. However, most attempts to change breastfeeding have not been successful because of the child’s intolerance or because of bacterial contamination.

In eighteenth century Europe, unsanitary conditions were the greatest danger to mothers or improper preparation of other forms of breast milk was common. Documents from the time show that wealthy English women chose not to breastfeed their babies because they thought that breastfeeding was old and damaged their figures. And, although breastfeeding was identified as a form of birth control, wealthy women chose to bottle feed or hand feed, often having 12 to 20 children instead.

In France, during the time of Louise XVI and Napoleon, breastfeeding – especially by the wealthy – was considered drunkenness and not practiced. Wet breastfeeding, along with animal milk and breast feeding, was the norm. French nursing homes are staffed by wet nurses, who carefully manage their food and activities, ensuring that the babies get the right amount of food.

In the 1800s, breastfeeding became popular again. For those who wanted an alternative, children were fed goat’s or donkey’s milk, but this had its own problems – too much protein and too few trace elements, and the risk of contamination. Cow’s milk – treated with additives (fat, sugar, lime water and cream) to make it more digestible and then clarified – became a common, cheap product. Although it was used regularly, it was not promoted because it contained low protein, although thanks to the work of Louise Pasteur and Robert Koch, who discovered a way to eliminate pathogenic bacteria, contamination was no longer a problem.

Urbanization and technological advances made breastfeeding less popular in the 20th century. The extended family became little support, and as women left the home and entered the workplace in record numbers, they tended to see breastfeeding as an unnecessary burden. During the first half of the 20th century, scientists and doctors began in earnest to explain in detail how mother’s milk is mixed and look for ways to imitate it in such a way that substitutes will match more or less its food and nutritional content. Success was slow at first, however. But thanks to technological advances, many manufacturers have been selling bacterially safe and nutritionally acceptable baby food in powdered form since before the second world war.

The most significant breakthrough in infant feeding occurred in the second half of the 20th century. American, Swiss and Japanese nutritionists, as well as pediatricians and chemists, have succeeded in comparing the essential nutrients of mother’s milk to powder, enabling it to be used from the first day of a child’s life. Improvements in the composition of infant formula, as well as better sanitation and living standards have helped to reduce the mortality of non-breastfed infants from about 80% to less than 2%.

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