Breast or Bottle: The perfect struggle of Nasima Begum

Dina Farhana, Senior Associate Coordinator (Nutrition Unit), Eminence

For at least 400,000 years, mammals produce milk for their young, and the human species has been nurturing its babies at the breast. For centuries, when a woman could not feed her baby herself, another lactating woman, or ‘wet nurse’, took over the job.

In the last 60 years human has begun to give babies the highly processed convenience food called ‘formula’. Staggeringly, the health consequences of such practice include five times higher risk of gastroenteritis, twice the risk of developing diabetes and up to eight times the risk of developing lymphatic cancer!

Infant formulas were never intended to be consumed on the widespread basis in a way they are today. Being conceived in the late 1800’s as a means of provident necessary sustenance for foundlings and orphans who would otherwise have starved. In this narrow context – where no other food was available – formula was a lifesaver.

A few days back, while crossing foot over pass nearer to secretariat;  a thin and lean woman, belonging to the poor socio economic classes, urging  for something to the pedestrian by showcasing her 9 months malnourished infant caught my notice. As winter just knocking at the door in that time, a cold breeze blew over the exposed baby.

Reaching the mother, I was extremely astounded by hearing her words as she was begging for everyone’s small contribution to let her buy some formula milk to save her beloved one.  My heart was breathing fast and I tried to understand the situation, sat beside her and asked her what she was doing there. In response, 18th year aged Nasima Begum, started  crying and asked to give her some money, as she could manage only fifty taka (Less than one Dollar) and she needs 350 taka more to purchase a container of “Lactogen ²for her growing child to survive, otherwise he will die.

Simply asking about the source of the advice to use formula feed, she mentioned a pediatrician from Dhaka Medical Collage Hospital gave the suggestion. How brutal we are? Following baby delivery, her husband left her and got married again. Since then she is living alone on the streets with her only child, bagging and passing days by starved sometimes.

Managing formula feed for the baby, is just next to impossible for a woman who cannot even manage her daily meals. Thinkable matter is how the doctor suggested formula feed to this baby. We are moved ahead from our ethics and influenced by this aggressive marketing of formula milk companies.

Everyone should bring to a close of such practice of struggling and march towards the bright lanes of breastfeeding, that’s’ my heartily yearning.




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