Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Breastfeeding Was Universal in the United States but Were Afraid to Ask

cow’s milk
milk, glass, pitcher @ Pixabay

In the United States, breastfeeding was common until baby formula became a viable alternative. In some circles, it is believed that this change happened in the 1920s when Nestle introduced infant formulas.

glass, milk, pour @ Pixabay

But according to historian Adrienne Rose Bitar, author of Nursing Wars: Breastfeeding Advocacy and Infant Formula Feeding in America (2011), this shift actually occurred much earlier- most likely around 1910 or 1912. Yet, the shift was gradual and not a deliberate campaign. Bitar traces this change back to the late 1800s when un-pasteurized milk became scarce due to contamination by bacteria.

cow’s milk

As people began turning primarily to cow’s milk for their family drinking needs, it spread disease from animal cows who were often infected with tuberculosis or brucellosis. The government did little to regulate interstate commerce in milk products until 1873, and then only under pressure from public concerns about rural families whose children had taken ill after consuming contaminated dairy products (or those of urban dwellers who drank adulterated water). Once outbreaks subsided in city populations that consumed pasteurized dairy products imported from farms considered safe, misinformation about tainted “city slicker


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