Wet Nurse Rising

Here’s an interesting and provocative article about the impact of the contaminated infant formula scandal in China. There is a resurgence of demand for wet nurses – who are impressively paid, according to the numbers in this article (well, that is in comparison to the usual pay in China). One of the reasons the article is interesting is that it spells out, in clear detail, the cultural pressures that lead to less breastfeeding in any society. What’s more, the article, seemingly without meaning to, also spells out exactly how a formula manufacturer gets a toehold in a culture that was predominantly breastfeeding – a chilling reminder of why formula manufacturers have to be held to extremely strict standards when it comes to all forms of advertising. The rise of wet nurses in China is also a cautionary tale to any country – when a woman stops breastfeeding, her baby is completely and absolutely dependent on the availability of a safe, reliable supply of high-quality infant formula. Other than a wet nurse, there just aren’t any other options – which begs the question of what’s happening to the infants in China whose families are too poor for a wet nurse. I was also amazed at the casual reference to a heroic policewoman who breastfed 12 (count them – TWELVE) additional orphaned infants so they wouldn’t starve after a major earthquake. Now that’s a heroine to add to your Joy Habit file. The only major flaw in this story? There really should be a mention of the fact that a wet nurse must be HIV-tested before being hired, and whether or not (most likely not) anyone in the Chinese government is educating the public about this important issue.

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