Mother’s Milk—a Wasted Resource
WHAT is the economic loss involved in the bottle-feeding of babies instead of letting them breast-feed? Science magazine answers that in some countries, ‘a laborer may need to spend a third of his daily wage to buy milk for his baby.’ It is estimated that in one South American country “the annual loss of human milk is equivalent to that produced by 32,000 cows.” The magazine then observes: “For the developing world as a whole, the cost of wasted human milk can be put at more than three-quarters of a billion dollars at the very least, and losses are ‘more likely in the billions,’ according to Alan Berg, World Bank deputy director for nutrition.”
And in buying cow’s milk instead of breast-feeding the infant, is the baby benefited by the money spent? It is now recognized that human milk possesses “unidentified factors” that protect against bacterial infections, and perhaps even influenza virus. Cow’s milk lacks these qualities.