KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — A group of lactation consultants have criticised a TV host for fallacious claims over cow’s milk that include babies absorbing bovine DNA through its consumption, saying the assertions demean women who are unable to lactate.
Picking apart the claims made by Ustazah Fatimah Syarha on TV3’s Fiqh Wanita last week, the group of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) said her claims conflicted with existing medical and scientific knowledge about human breastfeeding.
While agreeing that a mother’s milk is the best for her child, the group pointed out that between 2 and 6 per cent of women worldwide are unable to produce enough milk for their children due to medical issues.
“However, society should not look down upon the ability of these mothers or punish them because they are unable to nurse their babies, particularly not labelling them or their babies by linking them or their behaviour to the animal source of their alternative milk,” they said in a statement.
Among Fatimah’s more controversial claims was that consuming cow’s milk will make a baby take on the characteristics of the creature, which — according to her — include a tendency to be short-tempered.
It is unclear how Fatimah arrived at the conclusion that cows were ill-tempered or that consuming cow’s milk would induce the absorption of genetic material that is not similarly present when eating beef or other animal meat.
Rather than the false assertions, the lactation advocates said mothers who are unable to nurse should be given support through the availability of accurate facts and practical aid to ensure that they are able to nourish their babies to the best of their abilities.
Other claims made by Fatimah that the group debunked include the risk of paralysis if a baby does not receive milk from the mother, nutrients from milk in the left breast differing from that of the right, pain during breastfeeding being an indication for the father not to be unfaithful, that women have no excuse not to be able to breastfeed given existing technology, and that babies should be fed infant formula past the age of 6 months.
“Every nursing mother faces all manner of obstacles and problems to successfully breastfeeding. Accurate information and strong support by the couple, family, friends and medical practitioners are vital to ensure this success.
“Even if mothers cannot supply enough milk themselves and must supplement with infant formula, it is still beneficial and an achievement by these mother for their children,” the group added.
Fatimah’s claims drew ridicule after it was shared online, with some Malaysians questioning the basis of her assertions that were not grounded science.