Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC

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Why Breastfeed?

Risks of Formula Feeding

Illness and Hospitalization

  • Formula-feeding accounts for up to 26% of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus in children.
  • Otitis media (middle ear infection) is up to 3-4 times as prevalent in formula-fed infants.
  • US formula-fed infants have a 10-fold risk of being hospitalized for any bacterial infection.
  • Formula fed infants are about 250% more likely to be hospitalized for respiratory conditions like asthma and pneumonia.


  • One sudden infant death for every 1000 live births occurs as a result of failure to breastfeed in western industrialized nations.
  • For every 1000 babies born in the US each year, four die because they are not breastfed.

Development and Intelligence

  • Scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development were lower in formula-fed children at 1-2 years of age. Scores were directly correlated with the duration of breastfeeding.
  • Formula fed preterm infants had lower IQ scores (8 points) at age 7-8 years than premature infants who were fed breastmilk, even after adjustment for mother’s education and social class.
  • Formula fed infants are about 25% more likely to become overweight or obese.
  • Composition and contamination of infant formula
  • Due to an excessive phosphate load in formula, formula fed infants face a 30-fold risk of neonatal hypocalcemic tetany (convulsions, seizures, twitching) during the first 10 days of life.
  • Formula-fed infants are at a high risk of exposure to life-threatening bacterial contamination. Enterobacter Sakazakii is a frequent contaminant in powdered formula and can cause sepsis and meningitis in newborns.


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Lucas A. Morley R, Cole TJ, et al: Breastmilk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 339 (8788): 261-64, 1992

Mayer EJ, Hamman RF, Gay EC, et al: Reduced risk of IDDM among breastfed Children. Diabetes 37: 1625-32, 1998

Morrow-Tlucak M. Haude RH, Emhart CB. Breastfeeding and cognitive development in the first two years of life. Soc Sci Med 26:635-639, 1998

Saarinen UM. Prolonged breastfeeding as prophylaxis of recurrent otitis media. Acta Paediatr Scand 71:567-571, 1982.

Specker BL, Tsang RC, Ho ML, et al. Low serum calcium and high parathyroid hormone levels in neonates fed humanized cow’s milk based formula. Am J Dis Child 145: 941-945, 1991

Simmons BP, Gelfand MS, Hass M. Et al Enteobacter sakazakii infections in neonates associated with intrinsic contamination of a powdered infant formula. Infection Control Hosp Epidemiol 10;398-401, 1989.

Walker M: A fresh look at the risks of artificial infant feeding. Journal of Human Lactation 9(2): 97-107, 1993