The results of a new study on breastfeeding from researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center were just presented to American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and all sorts of medical and mainstream publications and media outlets are rushing to impart the important details contained therein.
As it turns out, being breastfed will not necessarily do a better job protecting babies from allergies. When comparing babies who drank breast milk to those who were fed formula, the study's lead author said, "We found both groups had similar numbers of kids with hay fever. We also found both groups had similar numbers of kids with asthma, eczema and food allergy."
However, that's not even the most significant takeaway that can be gleaned from the study. If you read the whole thing very carefully, you'll realize once and for all that YOU NEED TO STOP READING STUDIES ABOUT BREASTFEEDING.
Good God, people. Do you know what was said at the conclusion of the study? The study that was all about how breastfeeding isn't the cure-all that we've been told by countless other studies that it is?
"We know breastfeeding is good for babies, and new mothers should continue to breastfeed. Larger studies need to be done to determine how these results might apply to the larger population."
All of this stuff keeps changing—and it's driving us mad in the process.
In other words: Another study will come out telling you that formula is poison and breast is best. That study will be followed by another one saying babies who have formula-only diets will gain early entry into Mensa, but will also be more likely to become serial killers.
A March 2014 article in The New Yorker, "New Parenting Study Released," may have put it best: "A recent study has shown that if American parents read one more long-form think piece about parenting they will go fucking ape shit."
All of this stuff keeps changing—and it's driving us mad in the process. What doesn't change is that most, if not all parents, want what's best for their babies. However, there is no one right way to achieve the best, and there's no single best definition out there.
What's important here is that babies have adequate and proper nourishment—regardless of whether it's from breast milk or formula. It's also well-documented that parents suffer from the contradictory information that comes out week after week—and all of the judgment attached to the choices they make based on the newfound information.
What if we try raising our children the best we can—knowing we'll make mistakes and poor decisions along the way—and agree that love is the most critical tool that goes into parenting. That includes self-love. And for the love of it all, stop reading the studies that will have you second-guessing how to do it right.