Sunday, May 4, 2014

Searcher- Anti-breastfeeding Employers

This past week in class we discussed the differences in breast feeding habits between different countries. This article on New York Times states just why the United States has such a low level of breastfeeding. As a developed country much of our female population is employed and unfortunately we are one of the few countries that offers employed women help with maternity.  Many employers do not pay women for extended periods of maternity leave. They also do not provide adequate space for breastfeeding nor do they pay women during breaks needed for breastfeeding. Reasons for the lack of support for breastfeeding is that we live in a society that has access to different forms of nutrition for babies and clean water. As a result, it is more cost-effective for women to buy baby formula as opposed to breastfeeding. However, these different forms of feeding do not provide the babies with the proper immune supplements that would be provided in breastmilk. Due to this women have to choose between the nutrients they give their children or the amount of money they lose. Seeing as how only 35% of babies (3 months and older) are breastfeed it is clear to see that most American women chose to give their babies formula rather than losing money and jeopardizing their careers due to the lack of support from working environments. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


I think that breastfeeding at an old age is weird. A child should not need to drink his/her mother’s milk if they are able to ingest other types of food. I understand if a mother wants to give her child breast milk instead of formula, but when the child moves on to harder food they should not need to consume the breast milk. In this article I found it is talking about a women that breastfed her child until she was six years old. It goes into how this mother wrote a book on it and tells us some of the reactions that people had from it. Most of the reactions were negative because they thought it was inappropriate. The article says that some men that read it saw the breastfeeding as some type of pleasure the mother receives from it. They said that she probably gets turned on by it. I have some sort of the same reaction. I do not think that it is necessary for a child to be breastfed for this amount of time when there is other ways to have your child receive the same nutrients. I think that the mother secretly likes to do it because it keeps an attachment to the child, which is something that I see as selfish. I disagree strongly to breastfeeding a child past 3.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Searcher Response 5/1/2014 - Breastfeeding and Infant Health

While reading the articles and our posts on this blog about general opinions and first impressions of breastfeeding I became increasingly worried about society's viewpoint regarding breasts as taboo over the health of a child.  I am saddened by the fact that the over-sexualization of breasts has potentially decreased the health of a child.  I believe that educating not just mothers, but anyone a mother could encounter while breastfeeding in a public area, is incredibly important.  This way breastfeeding focuses less on the fact that the top of a breast might be peaking out of a shirt in a semi- public place (gasp - cover your eyes!) and more on the health of the baby, who is the primary concern of the mother anyway.  While I understand that formula saves some babies' lives, it is important to also realize, as the title of the blog "Mammals Suck... Milk" illustrates, that humans are mammals.  Would you find it odd if you saw a horse breastfeeding? A primate? A dog?  Just because humans are evolutionary advanced does not guarantee that every bodily function we possess has also advanced at the same rate as out social standards.  Although human brains have developed enough to formulate and understand the concept of socially acceptable behaviors around sexualization breasts and breasts milk have not evolved at the same rate or become less beneficial to life as they always have been.  I would appreciate seeing humans use those big brains of ours which, let's be honest, probably grew so nicely due to our own mother's breast milk and care, in order to think of the breastfeeding controversy in a more respectful way.  By spreading information about the numerous benefits of breast milk, bystanders of breastfeeding may be more able to understand the love and nurturing a mother is providing her baby by breastfeeding, and overcome the social standards set by the concept of breasts today.

While this was primarily more of a reaction to the articles, please check out the article below detailing the rise in mothers who breast feed (!!) and understand why it is helpful for their babies.

Also, this blurb about from about breastfeeding in North America:
"In North America and Western Europe, breastfeeding in public is not generally accepted.
Even if women are determined to breastfeed, they are often uncomfortable exposing their
breasts in public because breasts are culturally associated with sex. In many other
countries, breasts are seen as functional, so it is not immodest for them to be uncovered.
It is very natural to breastfeed in public and women are very comfortable doing so.
Some cultures may have a taboo against women breastfeeding in the company of men."

Searcher - 6 Reactions to Breastfeeding

I have never actually seen someone breast-feeding in public. When I first thought about it, I imagined I would be very uncomfortable if I did see it. I know many people who would even be offended by this. After the readings and discussions this week, I am beginning to think this is a little ridiculous. In the article I found, Supriya Kelkar talks about the six reactions to nursing in public. There is disappointment, embarrassment, WTF, bro, secret WTF, bro, judgment, and anger. She admits to seeing women breastfeeding in public bothered her before she had a kid of her own. She says that breastfeeding is actually difficult at the beginning, and without proper support, women can abandon it. People should start to see breastfeeding as a woman feeding her child and nothing more. When a child is hungry, the mother should not have to go through some large ordeal just to feed him or her.  As Kelkar points out, breasts are not sex organs so why is it such a problem for people? Men can walk around without their shirts and that does not offend most people. Men and women both have nipples. So what is the big difference? I’m not saying girls should just start to walk around shirtless, but I think it should be much more acceptable for women to feed their children in public.

Searcher- Nursing in Public

This week’s topic about breastfeeding has been very interesting to me, because breastfeeding in America has been a topic that has been lingering in my head for a very long time. As I mentioned in class, in Africa, women are free to nurse in public and no one looks at them with discuss or makes a judgment. Nursing in public has been embraced within our culture, and it is natural to us. Seeing that breastfeeding is not embraced within the American culture, and also that people get offended when they see women nurse in public, is very unpleasant. I really want to know when Americans started feeling this way towards nursing. This article that I found was written by a mother who was once ashamed of nursing in public because of a comment her brother made when he saw a woman nurse at a sports event. His reaction was full of disgust which actually frighten the author who I believe was a new mother at that time. These types of responses towards breastfeeding is why most women are embarrassed to nurse in public.

Searcher- More U.S moms embrace breastfeeding

This week we have been discussing the pros of breastfeeding, and how moms in America respond to it. When the class was asked how many of us had witnessed breastfeeding only about half had actually witnessed someone breastfeeding. We talked about how common it is for individuals in America to look at moms breastfeeding in somewhat of a shameful view, believing they shouldn't do it in public and it should only be done in home. When moms are being looked at shamefully it could discourage them from doing the whole thing all together.

During my research I found a good article that talked about how moms in America are turning to breastfeeding more, which is good because of all the benefits and importance that comes with moms that breastfeed. The article mentioned that in 2010 49% of mothers were breastfeeding at the recommended six-month mark while in 2000 only 35% of moms nursed at that six month mark. Another finding this article mentioned was breastfeeding has shown to increase the child's IQ points at the age of 7 if breastfed at the recommended marks in life. If the nation as a whole encouraged mothers to continue breastfeeding at the proper time marks, instead of discouraging mothers, then by having 90% of U.S families properly breastfeeding can save the United States $13 billion a year and prevent 911 deaths annually. These statistics are so relevant, because when talking about breastfeeding, a natural human thing to do is so essential to the successful growth of babies, and we should be achieving the proper rates.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Is Breast Truly Best" First Reader

Colen and Ramey’s study focused on whether or not breast-feeding has an effect on obesity, asthma, BMI, parental attachment, hyperactivity, and behavioral compliance on children in the United States. They looked at sibling pairs in which one sibling was breastfed and the other was given formula milk. What they found was that there wasn’t any protective effect of breastfeeding on any of the issues, which caused a media frenzy, even though their findings weren’t anything new. There had been studies in the past that had the same conclusions but Cohen and Ramey’s study caused such a media hype because of the way it was portrayed to the public, in which mothers could basically criticize each other on whether or not one breastfeeds their child or for how long they breastfed their child. Colen and Ramey made it seem as if there are no extra benefits of using breast milk versus regular formula milk, which is far from the truth. They failed to look at many early factors that are also very important such as the whether or not the mother was on paid maternity leave or the quality of day care that could have also influenced their findings .
            What I personally didn’t like about the Colen and Ramey study is that they completely ignored the benefits of breast milk and instead focused its effects on asthma, which had already been shown in the past that there were no protective effects on it.  Breast milk has been evolving along with humans, and I think there needs to be more studies done on the components in breast milk that influence immune function, metabolism, infant growth, infectious disease risk, and physiological, emotional, and cognitive development.  

The Breastfeeding Argument

The need for further research into the composition of breast milk, its physiological effects on the development of infants, and its potential long-term health benefits seems to be the overarching theme of this week’s readings.

The authors of these blogs make clear this necessity for more research by addressing a study by Colen and Ramey that was a bit too presumptuous in its conclusion that the benefits of breastfeeding are overstated. The problem with that conclusion (besides the fact that crucial data was left out of the study altogether) is that it was made based on a fairly small subset of their sample made up of sibling pairs in which one was breastfed and the other was not.  Using their entire sample, there actually was a positive correlation between breastfeeding and the health outcomes they measured.

It seems that the literature on the subject of breastfeeding/breast milk and the way these studies are reported in the media is only effectively confusing mothers who are trying to make the healthiest, most educated decisions possible for their babies.  On the one hand, there are women who may no longer see the need for breastfeeding because of  studies like Colen and Ramey’s that devalue the possible long term benefits of breastfeeding without even mentioning its well-established short term benefits.  On the other hand, there may be women who go to such extremes as to purchase breast milk online from an unknown donor because of enthusiastic reporting on the advantages of breastfeeding.  I agree with all of these authors in that more research is needed in order to move past the argument of whether or not breastfeeding has health benefits for babies and mothers (because it does) and learn more about how variation in its composition, its synthesis, and the volume that is consumed by infants produces variation in physiological functioning.

Breastfeeding Concerns

I have to say that the readings for this week completely blew me away. I knew that there has always been much controversy or even just talk over mother’s milk, but I never realized the full extent of the topic. What really struck me was Melanie’s picture comparison on the components present in breast milk versus formulas. I already knew that breast milk is almost always the better option when feeding infants, but the arguments presented in the readings made it obvious that formulas just don’t compete.

But the story doesn’t stop there. I say “almost always” because of today’s trend of acquiring breast milk via internet businesses that sell the stuff. Mothers donate to the sites and other mothers that, for whatever reason aren’t able to breastfeed, buy the milk. To me, this sounds downright sketchy. I’m glad that women understand the importance of breastfeeding, but buying mother’s milk off the internet is definitely not the ideal we should be striving towards.

At this point, I couldn’t help but research the ethical and biological concerns in more detail. I noticed the pressing issues that were addressed in multiple blogs were (1) the lack of knowledge we have on the complexity of breast milk’s composition and (2) how the components function and interact with infants. Instead of creating more online breast milk businesses and stressing the things that mother’s milk doesn’t benefit, there needs to be more funding towards the research of breast milk. Through this, we can improve upon formulas. Lastly, I feel like there needs to be less hate towards women that breast feed and those that don’t! It creates division and unwillingness to see things from a different perspective. All in all, fantastic posts!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Breastfeeding: Why the Debate Is (Or Should Be) Over (First Reader)

The breastfeeding debate—should you or shouldn’t you?—seems to crop up every few years and never answers the question definitively. Instead, what usually results is finger wagging in the direction of the “bad mothers” who do/don’t breastfeed (depending on whichever way the wind is blowing at the time). 

The Colen and Ramey article under consideration doesn’t appear to add anything new to the debate. The associations they drew between the protective significance of breast milk against such factors as obesity and hyperactivity were already documented in the literature. What makes their article slightly different from previous ones were the conclusions they drew from comparisons between siblings, which essentially negated these protective factors—a conclusion that is likely overblown.

I’m not much surprised that the article was “pitched” in this way. In the same way that so-called pageview journalism has become a means of attracting an abundance of online readers (usually at the cost of quality reporting), so Colen and Ramey’s addition to the literature on breastfeeding has largely been disseminated to the public in the most headline-grabbing means as possible. It’s similar to the way genetics studies used to be reported when every minor linkage of a gene to a behavior would be front-page news. The genetics community has gotten smarter about the way they present their findings, emphasizing the combined effects of genes rather a single gene for every behavior. Melanie Martin’s blog post suggests a similar solution. Studying the composition of breast milk and the additive effects of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother’s health would be more beneficial than the endless debate over whether or not mothers should breastfeed at all. The information available now only serves to muddy the waters for mothers when it should be helping them to make informed decisions. 

The Benefits of Breast Milk? -First Responder

Until recently, I had never given a second thought to the difference between using formula and breast milk. I have always thought that breast milk was better than formula, because of all the good things it passes between mom and baby, only some of which include: immune factors, growth agents, and beneficial bacteria. In class, we've already spoken about how beneficial good bacteria is, and how much it can help fight off bad bacteria.

Even after saying all of this, I am very, very hesitant to begin praising the sale of donor milk. Most of my concern comes from the lack of moderation and oversight that is currently used in the sale of breast milk. There is no way of contacting or removing a women for selling bad breast milk, and the harm that it could do to a baby could be potentially fatal. HIV, viruses, bad bacteria, toxins, and even drugs can be passed through milk to a baby. If a baby already is lacking a comprehensive immune system, giving them a dose of bad bacteria or a virus could kill them.

If the correct precautions were made, I would more than welcome the idea of donor breast milk, as it could help thousands of babies, like it already is in NICUs all across the United States. This would also be a wonderful program to help impoverished babies born in struggling parts around the world, like in some third-world nations.

The one thing I struggle with, though, is the idea that scientists studying breast milk and trying to prove something about it are ignoring the wonderful benefits it gives to newborns, and instead, they are focusing on the fact that it doesn't help protect babies against asthma. Should we be demonizing breast milk because it doesn't do something that would just be an added benefit? And if we decide to demonize breast milk, what would we replace it with? Currently, formulas cannot offer the same nutrients and benefits for newborns as breast milk, so they still fall behind there. If there is only one good resource available to feed newborns, why should we be trying to prove that it isn't good for them?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sexual Health, First Responder

In most of my blog posts I think I tend to be a bit over-idealistic. I'll do that again here, but try to follow a rational thought process. From reading the article regarding HPV vaccinations, I do see the possibility of almost if not completely eradicating HPV (assuming the vaccine works) similar to the eradication of small pox. Logically, this would require that every person eventually be vaccinated. To reach that stage, there would have to be a willingness of the majority to pass a law making this vaccine mandatory, or a mass effort using the tactics described in this article. These tactics to reach underserved high-risk populations are very well considered. It completely makes sense to target these populations in order to bring down the disparity. As this new vaccination becomes more mainstream, mainstream populations will probably adopt the norm of getting vaccinated against HPV, leaving behind members of the populations described in the article. So, this would, of course, make the disparity even wider. If this does happen down the road, it could at least lead to attention being brought to the issue.

Unfortunately, I worry that this may be the case and this problem may need to worsen in order for the proper attention to be given to it. The author's methods of working with members of at-risk populations and religious leaders to spread awareness and the sense of urgency to get the vaccination is a lot like the method of spreading breast cancer awareness that we have discussed. This means that the effectiveness of the breast cancer awareness campaign can be an indicator for the effectiveness of a campaign to promote this vaccine. The biggest problem I see is the lack of mass attention, effort and funding. Other issues like smallpox, tobacco use, and breast cancer prevention have had significant effect because of the attention and resources put into them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Week 12 Searcher

This is the World Health Organization (WHO) website and it describes the current antimicrobial resistance problem that is facing the world. It talks specifically about what antimicrobial resistance is, some of the current illnesses that are antimicrobial resistant, what the effects of this are and how they are working to counteract this. What this expands upon is the fact that if antibiotics don’t work it will cause people to be in the hospital longer, which can lead to more suffering and higher bills and could potentially put us back in the pre-antibiotic era. This can also further complicate other areas where the medical community has made advances such as organ transplants, major surgeries and chemotherapy, making it so these are not as safe to perform. Another unsettling thought is how this can cause a problem in controlling disease since people will be sick longer allowing for it to spread more and with globalization many of these strands that are antibiotic resistant can be spread to other places. This article matches chapter 10 by saying that while this is a natural occurring phenomenon there are some human actions that cause the increase of these resistant strands. Two of these actions are using antibiotics in animals to prevent them from getting sick and losing animals to sell, and the misuse of antibiotics by them being prescribed to patients who don’t need it. It seems this is a very serious problem that definitely needs to be looked into. The WHO recognizes that this is not one single item that needs to be fixed but has multiple causes and is trying to foster collaboration. It does seem to be lacking any concrete ideas of what people are doing to try and solve this problem, which is disturbing and appears we desperately need these ideas as more and more diseases are becoming resistant. 

Searcher -Antibiotic Resistance-

In class, we discussed ways to fight against unicellular organisms. One way was with antibiotics. We said that a big problem with using antibiotics to combat some types of diseases was that bacteria eventually form a resistance and the antibiotic becomes less and less effective.  That got me thinking, “can we somehow work around the bacteria’s ability to resist antibiotics?” Turns out, according to the study, “A Population Model Evaluating the Consequences of the Evolution of Double-Resistance and Tradeoffs on the Benefits of Two-Drug Antibiotic Treatments,” (phew, that’s a mouthful) there are ways to work around unicellular organisms’ ability to form resistances by using more than one antibiotic at once.

The study compares the effectiveness measured in patient recovery time and the bacteria’s formation of resistance of different methods of administrating antibiotics to patients. The methods that were tested were cocktail, when two antibiotics are taken together at the same time; cycling, which is taking one antibiotic and then switching to another after a set amount of time; mixing, which is taking one antibiotic and then switching back and forth; and single, which is taking only one antibiotic. More information on definitions can be found on page 4. What I found most intriguing was that “the two-drug combined COCKTAIL treatment, even when facing single- and double-resistance, can outperform a single drug treatment in the absence of resistance (cf. CONTROL).” (Cambell, 6)

--Here is the link to the study--

--If the first one does not work, here is another link that might--

This article that I found talks about how the increase in allergies is not from being too clean, basically over doing hygiene, but from losing touch with "old friends." The idea this article brings up of "old friends" is the loss of microbes our immune systems evolved with. This article also points out to say that microbial exposure is important and that it is not saying other wise. This is the last thing we discussed in class on Monday the 16th. In the article this hypothesis disproves the hygiene hypothesis.The hypothesis goes to say that challenges of urban living are what connect inflammatory disease. I think this hypothesis seems reasonable.  Changing from a rural environment to an urban one would definitely have some effect on people. Either a negative or positive effect is likely to rise or both. Our diet has also changed quite a bit and the population has increased, which I guess also explains why our diets have changed so much. I was a little confused though, we discussed in class how an inbalance in Th1 and Th2 where the Th1 skew might lead to allergies, asthma, and eczema. This was a very helpful article to read, it really explained everything well, I just feel in needed to have a little bit more to it.

Searcher Microbiomes

Learning about Microbiome’s in class this week really interested me. I have never learned much about them and I thought that it was interesting that they are helpful bacteria to us, yet many people still try to kill them off. This week I found an article about antibiotics and their effect on Mircobiomes. Reading “Good for the Gut” at the end I looked at the comments and someone commented about the affect of antibiotics so I looked more into it.

This article stated that not only the use of antibodies, but also operations such as C-sections have put us in what they referred to as “The Danger Zone”. This relates back to the movie we watched about the low amount of home births in the U.S. The main point of this article was the theory of the head of NYUs Human Microbiome Program. He states “the one reason is the changing microbiome; that we evolved a certain stable situation with our microbiome and with the modern advances of modern life, including modern medical practices, we have been disrupting the microbiome.” This relates back to the mismatch theory.  

This article also discussed what we discussed in class about how babies who are birthed a C-section miss out on the bacteria they would have gotten if they had been born vaginally. There was a study done that compared babies born vaginally and by C-section and they found that babies born my C-section often times did not even have microbiome from their mom on them, it was mostly from other people in the room. This showed how different microbiome is for babies right when they are born. This article was very interesting and discussed a lot of what we have been discussing in class.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First Respondent

One of my colleagues made a post highlighting the potential benefits of using helminths in treatment of diseases such as ulcerative colitis. I too, look at this optimistically, but as another of my colleagues mentioned, this is only a case study and not a proper random sample. The article mentioned that the helminths used would normally have some negative side-affects, but it did not mention whether or not Loke experienced these. If he did, I suppose they probably weren't nearly as bad as the effects of ulcerative colitis. If not, Loke stumbled onto something wonderful. These articles touched on the idea of modern sanitation and the overkill of hygiene causing more allergies and vulnerabilities in children. These tendencies manifest themselves in more urban areas.
I bring this up because with the urbanization of the population, we may at some point see such a high number of allergies, there may be a demand for prevention rather than treatment. Will we then turn to microorganisms and some sort of artificial exposure, hoping to have the same effect of a vaccine? I see this as a possible direction for the future

Week 12 Searcher

This week our focus is on the immune system and infectious diseases. Although we may not cover it entirely, I decided to research articles on "cures" for diseases, as the "For the Good of the Gut" article inspired me. Oftentimes doctors are pushed to pedal pharmaceuticals on patients as in previous times, these have diminished diseases. However, what did the human body do before large drug corporations? The answer: natural solutions.

Therefore, I found an article about a Chinese herb that lessens the severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the joints. Specifically, inflammation is found in the hands and feet of individual's with this disease.
The article can be referenced here:

Similar to "For the Good of the Gut", other populations have been exposed to a natural element such as this for years. It is a natural solution to a difficult problem. Taking the herb called the thunder god vine, lessens the swelling in joints of patients which also helps relieve pain. Like the helminth worms used as a treatment for ulcerative colitis, this herb proves to be a natural solution for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Nature has already created a remedy; so why aren't we using it?

Monday, April 14, 2014

First Reader

­I found the article “Good for the Gut” interesting because I was aware of individuals purposely infecting themselves with parasites such as tapeworms for aesthetic reasons, but never heard of such a symbiotic relationship for medical reasons. The subject of P’ng Loke’s study suffered from ulcerative colitis and would intentionally infect himself with hundreds to thousands of whipworm eggs and allow them to burrow in his intestinal tract. Within months, the pain and inflammation from his ulcers would subside, but over time as the worms were evacuated, symptoms would resume. It turns out, the worms’ presence in the body caused immune cells to produce more mucus than regular, which in turn provided a barrier between E.coli and other beneficial bacteria in the stomach, keeping them from stimulating inflammation of the tract. Further tests have been done in which patients with similar autoimmune diseases ingested worms, where an overwhelming 72.4% showed improvement. What was once thought to be a parasitic relationship has become a symbiotic one in special circumstances such as these. Despite the disturbing nature of this treatment, it may very well prove to be a promising and available form of therapy in the future.