A media report about a recent article published in the Journal of Pediatrics is causing outrage on social media. The authors of the Pediatrics Perspectives piece are, “calling on health professionals to stop saying that breastfeeding is natural, arguing that doing so gives the impression that natural parenting practices are healthier”. Given that breastfeeding has sustained the evolution of our species, and of all mammals, since we began, it’s surely hard to find anything more natural? Whether you support a natural outlook on life or not, we simply wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the ability to be nourished by our mother’s milk.

Despite what baby milk ads would have you believe, all efforts to standardise baby milk formula haven’t come close to matching the complexity of factors in breast milk. Let alone the infinite variation that occurs daily in breast milk as it responds to the immediate and changing needs of the baby. But making baby milk formula is big business and there is a huge industry netting multiple billions of profits that definitely don’t want to let go and 'go natural'.

The authors of this article, “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the “Natural” in Breastfeeding Promotion”, continue their assault by attempting to start a public campaign to end the positive use of the word natural, claiming that, “It is associated with such ‘problematic’ practices as home birth, homeschooling and the rejection of GMO foods, and that natural parenting movements are interfering with vaccination efforts". Aha, suddenly a light dawns. Natural and environmentally focused lifestyles aren’t good for corporate profits. Shame on you Pediatrics for sullying your reputation with such blatant profiteering.

Read the abstract of the journal article.

Yvonne England, ANH-Intl's practitioner liaison, has written a blog post on this Journal of Pediatrics piece, which contains further detail on salient points.

Call to Action

  • If you feel strongly about a scientific journal being used to manipulate public opinion for the apparent benefit of pharmaceutical, biotech and other corporate interests, write to the Editor of the Journal of Pediatrics, William F. Balistreri, at [email protected] and express your opinion.
  • You can also write directly to the corresponding author, and email Anne Barnhill PhD, Department of Medical Ethics and Policy, Philadelphia at [email protected]. Open copy the Department Chair, Ezekiel J Emanuel, MD, PhD at [email protected].
  • Read an earlier ANH-Intl Feature from Rob Verkerk PhD entitled, What is ‘natural’?
  • Spread this article and the call to action to your networks