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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Hoey C, Ware JL. Economic advantages of breast-feeding in an HMO setting: a pilot study. Am J Manag Care 1997;3:861-865. (updated July 4, 2000)

Hoffman JH, Damus K, Hillman L, et al: Risk factors for SIDS; results of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development SIDS Cooperative Epidemiological Study. Ann NY Acad Sci 533: 13030, 1998

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

  • I really appreciate your help, Lorna. Things started turning around after your visit. Although I had already reduced my milk intake, eliminating all remaining dairy had an enormous impact on Avery’s issues, and really solved our colic problems pretty much right off the bat. One thing that was very telling is that about a month later, I had about 24 hours where I decided I’d try milk again, and we had sour cream, cheese and whatnot…We had a miserable 24 hours and I actually threw away three bottles that I had pumped because it was just so bad. I immediately went back on soy milk. Thanks again. Kathryn Laird