I am a one of the “Strong Moms” (Trademark, Abbott Laboratories)

Although I had a home birth and have never taken my new son to a doctor’s office, I somehow managed to be targeted for the “Strong Moms” (TM) campaign.  The initial mailings were generic take-care-of-yourself promotions, with cute images of babies and healthy-looking women.  I honestly could not figure out what they wanted from me.

Yesterday, all became clear when I received two complementary cases of Similac.

Being a healthy, breastfeeding mother, I have never had reason to look at formula ingredients.  Only one of my children ever needed formula (5 bottles total); after catching an upper respiratory infection that landed me totally dried up in the emergency room, my husband fed her something (I know not what), and she became so constipated he had to give our then-5-month old an enema.  After getting 3 bags of IV into my system, I pumped every 15 minutes for a full day until my supply was back, and treated sick people with hostility for the following year.

At any rate, I decided to look at the ingredients of this gift for me – one of the “Strong Moms” (TM)  targeted in this campaign – and my jaw literally dropped to the floor.  I’m sure the lactation people out there know all this, but here’s a reiteration of a few of the main ingredients of one the cans of Similac that was mistakenly mailed to me, with a little of my own online research thrown in:

43.2% Corn Syrup Solids. Corn syrup, which consists mostly of dextrose, is a sweet, thick liquid made by treating cornstarch with acids or enzymes. It may be dried and used as corn syrup solids in coffee whiteners and other dry products. Corn syrup contains no nutritional value other than calories, promotes tooth decay, and is used mainly in foods with little intrinsic nutritional value.  http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm

14.6% Soy Protein Isolate. A very large percentage of soy – over 90% – is genetically modified and it also has one of the highest percentages contamination by pesticides of any of the foods we eat.  Soy protein isolate (SPI) is not something you can make in your own kitchen. Production takes place in industrial factories where soybeans are first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.  Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. As a result, soy-based formula also has over 1000% more aluminum than conventional milk based formulas. Finally, the resulting curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final hardship to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein.  Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called “lysinoalanine” is formed during alkaline processing.  Numerous artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong “beany” taste. http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/soy.htm

10.3% Sugar (Sucrose). Added sugar in infant formula, specifically sucrose, is linked with several health risks, including damage to tooth enamel, a preference for more sweet foods and the inclination to overeat. Research shows that babies and children prefer sweeter foods and tend to eat more of it than foods that are less sweet. Babies who overeat and have rapid weight gain in the first year are more likely to become obese during childhood.  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/113347.php

The materials they sent with the formula include an attractive little booklet with 7 pages on how to breastfeed, then 6  pages on how to pump and store breastmilk, then 16 pages on the basics of formula and supplementing for the busy mom, then 14 pages of advertisements on the varieties of Similac formulas.

Abbott Laboratories has gone to a whole new level with their newest campaign. Perhaps we need a short addendum to Cate Colburn-Smith’s program, which highlights the strategies and effectiveness of the marketing of these “cans of crap”.

I like to think of myself as one of the “Strong Moms” (TM).  However, it took very little strength to pick up these cans and throw them into the nearest trashcan.