Second, Infant Formula is not Free

Sociological Questions

1. What social views and values about medicine, society, and the body are reflected in prenatal sex selection?

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2. Which social groups are in conflict over this issue? Whose interests are served by allowing prenatal sex selection? By forbidding it?

3. Which of these groups has more power to enforce its view? What kinds of power do they have?

4. What are the intended consequences of permitting prenatal sex selection? What are the unintended social, economic, political, and health consequences of this policy?

that must be mixed with water and then transferred to a bottle before it can be used. In most of the less developed nations, this water contains dangerous infectious or- ganisms. Those organisms can be killed if the water and bottle are boiled, but many families don’t understand how or why they should do so. Moreover, throughout the less developed nations, many women and children already spend hours each day getting water and firewood and lack the time and energy to get the extra supplies needed to sterilize water and bottles.

To cut the costs, families often stretch infant formulas by diluting them with water. Babies fed diluted formula in essence starve to death while filling their stomachs.

Finally, by altering the hormonal levels in a woman’s body, breastfeeding serves as a moderately effective contraceptive. Breastfeeding thus helps women to space out pregnancies and gives each baby a better chance for survival.

Given all the benefits of breastfeeding, why don’t more women in less devel- oped nations breastfeed? Part of the answer lies in traditional cultural beliefs, such as the conviction that children require certain traditional foods for health or that it is unsafe for men to have sex with breastfeeding women (Dettwyler, 1995). Part of the answer lies in practical economic and social issues, such as the difficulty of meshing breastfeeding with paid work. And part of the answer lies with multinational food corporations that continue to active promote bottle-feeding despite international agreements (under the World Health Organization) against the practice. Use of in- fant formula is rising significantly, especially in the growing economies of China and southeast Asia where more women can now afford formula and more regard it as “modern”