Many argue that breastfeeding is the first action that creates a special bond between a mother and her newborn. However, others disagree with this statement since a lot of mothers create unbreakable bonds with their healthy babies without even breastfeeding them. The “formula mommies” often receive backlash because of using infant formulas instead of breastfeeding because the shamers claim that “formula moms” are depriving their newborns from essential nutrients. However, with the advancements in research and technology, it does not come as a surprise that companies are trying to make the infant formula as nutritional as breast milk so that all babies can get the nutrients they need.
A 2017 WHO report says that the rate for breastfeeding infants less than 6 months is only 40% of mothers, which comes to show that the infant formula market has been gaining a lot of popularity over the years. But in order to find out where this market is heading, it is important to go back in time to when it first started.
How It Was Created
Long before modern medicine took over, breastfeeding was quite common. However, with some women not having adequate milk to feed their babies and others simply not wanting to breastfeed, many began hiring wet nurses to nurse their babies up until they were weaned. But soon after, the popularity of wet nursing started to decline and a scalable and adequate alternative was needed. And that is when in 1965, German chemist Justin von Liebig introduced the earliest known infant formula. A little after that more formulas started emerging and infant formula became a popular alternative to breastfeeding. One of the many reasons for its popularity is because it is a more convenient approach for working mothers. With formula milk, mothers can go back to the workplace without having to worry about how to feed their babies. In addition, with the amount of shaming that mothers receive for breastfeeding in public, it is no surprise that many would choose to avoid the situation and opt to use baby formula in public instead.
Where Is It Headed
Due to the rise in its popularity, it is reported that the infant formula market reached a value of $42.7B in 2020, and experts expect it to continue to grow moderately over the next few years. This can be largely due to the fact that parents are now becoming more aware of the importance of giving their children the nutrients they need, and these baby formulas seem to include the needed nutrition! Furthermore, key players in the market are working on creating an infant formula that is very close to natural breast milk. For instance, Enfamil Enspire, is said to be the formula closest to breast milk right now! One of the components needed to do so is lactoferrin, which is an important protein in human milk that improves the immune system of babies and helps them absorb the iron found in breast milk. While infant formula producers usually get lactoferrin from cows through a less than ideal and expensive process, this approach still does not yield the same nutritional benefits that babies can get from breast milk. Therefore, this led leading biosynthesis and bio-manufacturing company, Conagen, to use advanced fermentation to produce lactoferrin in order to offer nutritional formula milk.
“Nourishing the world’s children is a priority for infant formula manufacturers. We want to support them for providing a lactoferrin as similar to breast milk lactoferrin as is possible with a low cost sourceable solution,” said Vice President of Research and Development at Conagen, Casey Lippmeier.
Despite its success and rising popularity, infant formula will never replace breastfeeding. However, it can be a great substitute for the mothers who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. The world is realizing the importance of providing natural and nutrient rich foods for infants, and advancements in technologies are helping make sure that all babies get the nutrients they need.
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