Tainted formula leads to rise in wet nurses in China

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, In The News

The recent news about tainted baby formula in China is heartbreaking. Over 53,000 children have fallen ill; four have died. The crisis have left Chinese parents scrambling for safe food for their infants, and some are turning to an old-fashioned practice -- wet nursing.

Breastfeeding, in general, is on the decline in China. Parents believe, for whatever reason, that formula is a superior food. But knowing now that they can't trust manufacturers, parents are looking for human milk for their babies. And if they can't provide it, they'll hire someone who will.

The job pays well, up to 13,000 yaun a month. But it's not without it's drawbacks. Critics worry about exploitation, since wet nurses are traditionally poor women who serve wealthy families. Even more gut-wrenching is the fact that wet nurses are hired to live with the family that hires them, often leaving their own young children behind back at home.

As China makes this transition, I wonder if breastfeeding rates will increase. Formula manufacturers hit parents where it hurts the most... the health and safety of their children. It'll be a long road regaining that trust, and in the meantime, babies have to eat.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.