Diluting baby formula is dangerous

Published 12:25 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Water is heralded universally as the liquid of life and a prominent ingredient for a healthy adult diet, but the fluid could prove deadly for babies.

It was a lesson Jeri Moss of Tampa, Fla., learned first hand when her son, 5-month-old La’Damian Burton, had a seizure and stopped breathing. Moss later revealed that she had used too little of the powdered formula — using four scoops when she should have used six — to make each container last for a longer period of time and stretch her budget.

Barbara Mills, agent assistant for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program with the Covington County Extension Office, said diluted infant formula will lower the amount of nutrients newborns need to gain adequate weight and develop both physically and mentally.

“When we do the breastfeeding and bottle-feeding classes we always advise mothers to mix formula in accordance with the directions on the container,” Mills said. “The formula provides essential nutrients infants need to develop. Giving a child too much liquid could also cause the child to lose its appetite; the child could become underweight and numerous other problems could occur as a result.”

Expectant mothers and mothers currently caring for newborns can also receive numerous benefits by breastfeeding their children, Mills said.

“It is the most nutritious feeding method for children and the most convenient for mothers,” she said. “With hard times it is perfect. The more the demand the more you supply. There is never a need to worry about running out of formula or mixing the formula properly. You do not have to keep bottles clean or worry about stumbling around to prepare a bottle at night.”

Mills said not all mothers are receptive to the thought and practice of breastfeeding, but the benefits far outweigh any possible inconvenience.

“It is hard but if they can stick with it for a week or so until the soreness is gone, then it will be much easier,” she said. “The child and the mother will benefit from it. The child will not have as many allergies or an ear infection. Mothers lose weight faster, their stomach goes down faster and it is just more convenient all the way around.”

Families in need of assistance may also apply for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, women who had a baby within the past six months, infants and children under the age of 5. Participants must meet income requirements and have a nutritional risk that proper nutrition could help to improve.

To apply for the WIC program, contact the Covington County Health Department at (334) 222-1175. Visit www.adph.org/wic for additional information.