After spending the week in Deerfield Beach, Fla. at the 26th Annual International Breastfeeding Conference, I find myself relating to speakers Cristiano Boccolini, PhD and Patricia Boccolini, PhD. In their presentation, Evaluating the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in Brazil: Multi-NBCAL Study, they shared that they’d acquired about two terabytes worth of data to analyze! That is a whopping undertaking.
I can feel my brain buzzing trying to process the massive amount of data I acquired from all of the brilliant minds of conference presenters and participants alike.
I’ll share just a few points:
- Scientists have found that HAMLET— a complex of the two most abundant molecules in human milk– kills tumors.
- Food before one is NOT just for fun. In fact, improper or insufficient complementary feeding around and after six months of age leads to deficits that may not be recoverable.
- The complexities that Black women face can lead to structural changes in their telomeres, causing weathering or premature health deterioration.
- Researcher Ragnhild Maastrup shows in her research that nipple shield use is “like wetting your pants to keep warm.”
- Gut microbiome affects later health and phenotype in very low birth weight (VLBW) babies.
- The U.S. medical system is still influenced by slavery.
- Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) affect 1 in 7 women. PMADs, not like other comorbidities, are detectable and treatable.
I challenged myself to somehow synthesize the week’s worth of info for the blog and realized that its common thread isn’t necessarily related to the content of the material. Of course it all falls under maternal child health, (and we know “all roads lead to breastfeeding) but the overarching theme I realized this year is that knowledge is a non-linear journey.
The presenters are so influential and inspiring because the knowledge they share is not connected to their ego; they recognize that change can be hard, but accept its inevitability. They don’t allow their ideas to become stale, and they welcome new perspectives and honor others’ experiences.
Funnily enough, on my flight to the conference last year, I read Wise Eyes, Fresh Eyes in the January 2019 issue of Southwest The Magazine. Chip Conley, an Airbnb executive, is quoted:
“‘Instead of power being distributed in the traditional physics of wisdom– from the top down, old to young– the wisdom is now going in both directions.’” (p 54-56)
The conference speakers embody this sentiment, creating space for discussion from all representations and recognizing themselves as lifelong learners.
In other airplane reading, Andile Dyalvane, a ceramic artist who stamps his work with industrial objects, is quoted in Architectural Digest’s October 2019 edition: “‘Everything we do has an impact.’” (p 72)
If this is true, then everything we do should be with intention.
Last week, we heard some harrowing statistics and stories as they relate to mothers and babies and their families:
- “African-American, Native American and Alaska Native women are about three times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy, compared to white women in the United States”, twelve times more in some neighborhoods.
- The current global levels of severe wasting are responsible for up to 2 million deaths annually.
- Dysbiosis in NICU infants increases their likelihood of experiencing stunted growth even at 4 years of age.
This stuff is enough to knock you off your feet, but with the spirit and investment of the conference presenters, I’m hopeful that we will continue marching forward, improving maternal child health outcomes and working toward a more just world.