I confess I’m a fan of the Harry Potter books. So I enjoyed seeing the title of a working paper published by Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health: ‘Voldemort’ and Health Professional Knowledge of Breastfeeding — Do Journal Titles and Abstracts Accurately Convey Findings on Differential Health Outcomes for Formula Fed Infants?
For a long time advocates and health care providers have felt a lot of pressure to be carefully neutral in their language about formula. They are told that they shouldn’t “make mothers feel guilty” if they don’t breastfeed. (I’m not going to get into the nuances of the guilt discussion now except to say that feeding choices don’t make “good” or “bad” mothers. See my post Wheel Chairs and Formula for more discussion.)
According to a study led by Dr. Julie Smith, this language choice has extended to published studies about hazards associated with formula feeding. She said
[T]he vast majority of these studies did not mention formula feeding in the places that matter most for lasting impressions: headlines and abstracts. Rather than naming formula feeding as a significant risk factor, researchers seem to be treating this subject like Voldemort in the Harry Potter novels, as “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” For example, a study showing a higher incidence of a serious condition in formula fed infants was misleadingly named ‘Breastfeeding and necrotising enterocolitis,”