Banner Health Services  

Which is safer: breastmilk or formula?

Sherry Hottenstein, RN  

Sherry Hottenstein, RN is a lactation consultant at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center’s Women and Infant Services department.

Question: Which is safer in an emergency, formula or breastfeeding my baby?

Answer:  We seldom think about hurricanes, earthquakes or floods interfering with our daily lives but emergencies still happen.

For example, a serious car accident on the highway  might leave you and your baby stranded. Or a summer monsoon storm could ravage your part of town, leaving you without water and power for long periods of time. If that happens, experts say you’ll be better off if you are breastfeeding your child instead of relying on formula.

The act itself can comfort both you and your child during stressful situations and breastfeeding can continue even when other issues, such as lack of water or refrigeration, make the use of formula impossible.

According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, children are most vulnerable during emergencies that disrupt normal food and water distribution. In fact, the organization reports child mortality jumps up to 70 times higher than average during emergencies due to diarrhea, respiratory illness and malnutrition.

And health care experts agree – breastfeeding is better for mothers and their babies at all times, even when there’s no emergency!

Breast milk provides your baby with more than just nutrition. It also provides live components that protect your child from many diseases and infections; substances formulas do not contain. Thanks to these valuable immune properties, children who are breastfed are less likely to suffer ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses.

Page Last Modified: 02/22/2010
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