Sunday, April 30, 2006

The weight of the world

As of yesterday, Elijah is back to his birth weight, which made the midwives at the Birth Centre very happy. They've been hassling us for a number of days about his weight and even had Helen hooking herself up to a mobile dairy and getting us to force feed Elijah with a syringe milk left over after a feed.

Funnily enough, on 27 April, the World Health Organisation released new Child Growth Standards to replace the current standards which had been in place since the 1970s. It turns out the original reference was "based on data from a limited sample of children from the United States" and contained "a number of technical and biological drawbacks that make it less adequate to monitor the rapid and changing rate of early childhood growth." Apparently the rates were also based on the growth of formula-fed babies, who grow faster than breastfed babies. The new standards also recommend that all babies be breastfed for at least the first six months.

As the Adelaide Advertiser put it, "for 40 years, mothers have been given the wrong advice about their baby's ideal weight".

This just reinforces my own personal view that "scientific fact" is just as open to negotiation as any other human construct (see Science Studies as a start to get a vague idea of what I'm on about).



anastasia_wolf said...

Tsk tsk. ;) It's recommended babies be EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for the first 6 months, then fed with additional foods until 2 and beyond.

Other than that, noice entry :D.

smp said...

This is part of what I find to be so weird about the original standards. The WHO is quite firm on the benefits of breastfeeding, yet they had growth standards based on the growth of forumla fed babies.

I'm the last person who should be frustrated by the inconsistencies of bureacracy (after all, that's what keeps me employed) but still...gah, life's strange.

anastasia_wolf said...

I think because it was hard to find babies that were exclusively breastfed... it was easier to find formula fed babies (well, it still is but it's getting better!)