Breast Is Best
Last week I included in the roundup a piece about breastfeeding by Hanna Rosin in the Atlantic,
which questioned how much better than formula breastfeeding actually is for babies, and discussed Rosin’s own sense of frustration at being tethered
to her baby’s feeding schedule. On Babble, Jennifer Block now offers a
Rosin quotes a review article from 1984 but doesn’t cite the
most recent and comprehensive epidemiological review of the literature,
published in 2007, which surveyed 9,000 studies. This report is upfront
about the limitations of studying breastfeeding (namely that it is
impossible to conduct a randomized controlled trial — you can’t tell
women how to feed their babies — and thus it is nearly impossible to
prove causation) but nevertheless concludes, "A history of
breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of many diseases in
infants and mothers," and goes on to name a dozen. There are some
relationships that remain unclear, such as whether breastfeeding makes
babies smarter or moms shed pregnancy pounds more quickly. But the
thrust of the evidence is clear: breastfeeding is optimal.
But Block acknowledges:
That said, public health initiatives have been known to overstate risk
and play on fear in an effort to affect behavioral change. And
breastfeeding PSAs have shamelessly sunk to playing the bad mother card
ad that likens formula-feeding to riding a mechanical bull while pregnant).
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It’s well worth reading the whole piece.
Senate Finance Committee to Vote on Sebelius Nomination
The Senate Finance Committee should vote to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary today, the AP reports,
and a full Senate vote could come within days. Some Republicans
"turned against her" following the revelation that Sebelius received
more in donations from abortion provider Dr. George Tiller than she had
originally disclosed. The AP explains:
Sebelius told the committee in written responses after her
confirmation hearing this month that Tiller had given her $12,450
between 1994 and 2001.
She was forced to revise that response
after an Associated Press review showed that Tiller and his abortion
clinic donated an additional $23,000 between 2000 and 2002 to a
political action committee Sebelius established to raise money for
fellow Democrats. Sebelius apologized and called it an oversight.
White House Unveils Domestic HIV/AIDS Plan
reports that the White House has unveiled a coordinated
domestic HIV/AIDS prevention, education and treatment plan.
"Act Against AIDS seeks to put the HIV crisis back on the national
radar screen," said Melody Barnes, assistant to the president and
director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. "Our goal is to
remind Americans that HIV/AIDS continues to pose a serious health
threat in the United States and encourage them to get the facts they
need to take action for themselves and their communities."
The plan will work alongside community-based groups serving the African-American community, the District News reports.
The first phase of the campaign was created to raise awareness about
HIV/AIDS. A new website, NineAndaHalfMinutes.org, has been created to
provide basic information about prevention, testing and treatment.
second phase, set to begin this summer, will focus on
African-Americans. To assist many cash-strapped organizations, the CDC
is providing many groups $100,000 to hire an AIDS coordinator, thus
insuring the issue will gain higher visibility in each organization. In
addition to the NNPA, the partner groups are: 100 Black Men of America,
American Urban Radio Networks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists,
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, National Action Network, NAACP,
National Coalition of 100 Black Women, National Council of Negro Women,
National Medical Association, National Organization of Black County
Officials, National Urban League, Phi Beta Sigma and the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference.
New NIH Guidelines Address Creation of Stem Cell Lines
New NIH guidelines released late last week address whether or not federal funding can pay for embryo creation. The Washington Post offers an assessment of the new NIH regulations:
The draft guidelines hew closely to those at other entities, such as
the National Academy of Sciences. Would-be parents who go to clinics
for in vitro fertilization generally create more embryos than will be
implanted, and embryos not used are destroyed or kept frozen. The
guidelines would allow couples to donate embryos for research, as long
as they are not paid and are fully informed of their options. Federal
money still wouldn’t be used to create the stem cell lines from such
embryos, but if that work is done with private money, federally funded
research could make use of those stem cells. Above all, federal funds
wouldn’t be used to create embryos for use in research. After a public
comment period, final guidelines will be issued by July 7.