The Resurgence of Breastfeeding, 1975-2000

The Resurgence of Breastfeeding, 1975-2000

As breast-milk substitutes became increasingly sophisticated and heavily marketed in the mid-twentieth century, bottle-feeding became regarded worldwide as safe, convenient, normal and even preferable to breastfeeding. From 1975, research conducted in the developing world, particularly Gambia, began to converge with work on immunology and child psychology to reassert the value of mothers’ own milk. At the same time, growing understanding of physiology, reproductive and developmental biology shifted interest from the composition of infant formulae to the biology of infant feeding. Insights from comparative zoology, dairy science and animal husbandry, shared with research in human lactation and ‘naturalization’ of childbirth all helped to de-medicalize infant feeding. Chaired by Professor Lawrence Weaver, this Witness Seminar was attended by representatives from women’s groups, pressure groups and international organizations, including Baby Milk Action, IBFAN, La Leche League, the National Childbirth Trust, WHO and UNICEF, as well as paediatricians, obstetricians, physiologists, nutritional scientists, zoologists, psychologists and members of industry. The discussion addressed the critical events, scientific advances, and social and political steps that drove the resurgence of breastfeeding, focusing not only on the nutritional science but also on the social context in which the changes took place.

Participants included: Mr James Akre, Professor Elizabeth Alder, Mrs Phyll Buchanan, Professor Forrester Cockburn, Ms Rosie Dodds, Mrs Jill Dye, Professor Fiona Dykes, Ms Hilary English, Miss Chloe Fisher, Professor Anna Glasier, Professor Lars Hanson, Dr Elisabet Helsing, Dr Edmund Hey, Professor Peter Howie, Professor Alan McNeilly, Professor Kim Michaelsen, Mrs Rachel O’Leary, Ms Gabrielle Palmer, Professor Malcolm Peaker, Dr Ann Prentice,Professor Mary Renfrew, Mrs Patti Rundall, Ms Ellena Salariya, Dr Felicity Savage, Professor Roger Short, Dr Mary Smale, Dr Alison Spiro, Dr Penny Stanway, Dr Tilli Tansey, Mrs Jenny Warren, Mr John Wells, Professor Brian Wharton, Professor Roger Whitehead, Dr Anthony Williams, Miss Carol Williams andDr Michael Woolridge.

Introduction by Professor Rima Apple, 176pp, 2 appendices, 13 figures, biographical notes, references, glossary and index.

Crowther S M, Reynolds L A, Tansey E M. (eds) (2009) The resurgence of breastfeeding, 1975–2000, Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine, vol. 35. London: The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL.
ISBN 978 085484 1196