Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Myth of Follow-On Milk

Follow-on milk is a formula aimed at babies over six months old. It is marketed as a milk that meets the needs of the older baby better than standard formula. The advertising tells us that it contains nutrients to support an older baby's immune system as well as the iron that a six-month-plus baby needs.

Lactation Consultants do not recommend using follow-on milk. They recommend standard new baby formula for any age of baby. This is because new baby formula has a high whey content as opposed to the high casein content of "hungry baby" and "follow-on" milks (whey and casein are the proteins present in cows' milk, the proportions of which must be altered to make the milk digestible by human infants). Casein is more difficult to digest than whey and sits in the stomach for longer. Baby's systems are not designed to have food sitting around in their stomachs - breastmilk passes through in a couple of hours. This is one of the reasons why formula fed babies are more likely to have stomach upsets and constipation.

I discovered by reading the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog that follow-on milks have not caught on in the US like they have in the UK. I wonder why that could be?

Could it possibly be that they were invented to circumnavigate the UK restrictions on advertising of formula milk for babies less than six months old?

Could it be that they have not caught on in the US because formula milk advertising is not banned there, and hence the companies have no need to artificially create a product that they can legally advertise?

Could it be that follow-on milk is completely unnecessary, but formula companies have used marketing to convince UK mothers that their babies will be healthier if they buy it?

Just some idle thoughts. But pretty shocking ones.


Lisa - edenwild said...

Seeing as breastmilk changes over time to perfectly meet a baby's needs, I was wondering if they would make a progressive formula. Too bad they got it wrong. Poor babies who have to deal with it.

Melodie said...

There is a big push for these products in the Philippines too. Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom has written about this subject a couple times. It's quite rampant there. I find it quite fascinating and also disgusting how the formula companies have managed to create a new loophole to further market their products. We don't have this in Canada either - and I hope we never do. So far it appears it is more common in the countries that have higher rates of formula feeding.

jennyrose said...

I am a US mama, and I had no idea what follow on milk was! I stumbled on this when looking or the history of infant formula (just curious, I am a full-time BF-er). There is really no such thing here in the US. We have "night time" forumla that is supposed to be thicker and "last longer" than regular formula. However, formula companies can and do market like CRAZY to hospitals and health care workers. They send me free samples in the mail, coupons, all kinds of crap. The one thing that is reassuring (sort of) is that they all state clearly on their materials that breastfeeding is best and forumla should only be used if necessary. Small comfort. The US is coming around from a formula craze, thank goodness, but there is so much misinformation out there!