By, Dr. Michelle Perro, M.D., D. Hom.,
For the infant that is unable to nurse, formula is the next best choice. But whether to use a home-prepared formula or a commercial brand depends on many factors. For my patients, I usually recommend a commercial brand. There are several formulas to choose from and there are certain ‘musts’ that I do insist upon. One “must” is to choose an organic preparation. Because of the toxic effects of herbicides, particularly glyphosate (due to its prolific usage) as well as organophosphates and genetically engineered foods, formula that is not organic is not an option for infant feeding.
Baby formula that is not organic contains ingredients that can have lifelong detrimental health impacts for children. Those ingredients include GMOs, glyphosate and other pesticides and herbicides. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, together with the adjuvents or “inert” ingredients in the Roundup formula, and “Roundup ready” seeds (aka GMOs, which don’t perish under increased spraying of herbicides) have profound toxicity. One particular issue is that the Roundup formula eliminates beneficial bacteria found in our intestines. Beneficial bacterial play a key role in many important functions in the body, particularly immune function. The depletion of beneficial bacteria allows pathologic bacteria – which is at the root of many serious chronic diseases – to take up residence in our intestines, and to thrive. In addition, glyphosate inhibits the activity of a group of enzymes ubiquitous in the body called cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are important for oxidation, and for detoxification in the liver.
Full maturity of the liver in the infant takes approximately two years. As soon as the umbilical cord is cut, rapid induction of liver functions begin. The infant liver is delayed in achieving normal detoxifying and synthetic functions such as making proteins, coagulation factors, breaking down products from hemoglobin synthesis (bilirubin being one and, hence, the development of neonatal jaundice), etc. If you expose newborns to substances that further impair liver and immune function, the infant is at increased health risks.
Let’s look at the ingredients in Similac, for example:
Note that the number one and two ingredients are corn syrup and sugar. Both of these products are highly genetically modified, so unless you stick to organic, your infant will be ingesting pesticides and GMOs in their formula. The third ingredient in Similac is milk protein isolate. Milk that is not organic also contains high levels of GMOs and pesticides because those toxins bioaccumulate in the bodies of the animals that eat GMO-based and pesticide soaked feed; and as with humans, the synthetic chemicals are passed into the animal’s milk.
Why not GMOs? There is an alarming rate of childhood disorders on the rise in the US, including allergies, autoimmunity, neurological disorders (Autism and ADHD), growth failure, endocrine disruption, etc. There are modifications to the immune function that can take place prenatally and early in life which may lead to the above disorders (“developmental immunotoxicity”). Increased exposure to environmental toxins during those sensitive times may contribute to the health conditions noted above. In animal studies where animals were fed GMOs, there were profound changes in the animal’s intestines as well as immune function. There is likely synergistic toxicity. If there is an insult to the intestine whether it be in its structure or normal bacterial biome, a negative health cycle can begin.
From this pediatrician’s perspective, I do believe we can successfully feed our babies with organic foods. I like to add additional organic probiotics (bifidus) to the formula. In order to ensure the health of our infants and children, there is no acceptable amount of herbicides or GMOs that should be in a baby’s diet.
Dr. Michelle Perro has an integrative pediatric practice at the Institute for Health and Healing at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and is a MOMAS Advisory Board member. Dr. Perro is board-certified in Pediatrics and has more than 30 years of experience in emergency rooms, hospitals, community clinics and in private practice. She graduated cum laude from Yale University, and from Mount Sinai School of Medicine with honors in Medicine and Pediatrics. She was Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at New York Medical College’s Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem before relocating to the Bay Area. For ten years she served as an Emergency Room physician at Oakland Children’s Hospital. She also has been a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF, and has published and lectured on many topics in her field.