Female Infants Growing Breasts

The news doesn’t surprise me. Female infants in China have been growing breasts. “According to the official Chinese Daily newspaper, medical tests performed on the babies found levels of estrogens circulating in their bloodstreams that are as high as those found in most adult women. These babies are between four and 15 months old. And the evidence is overwhelming that the milk formula they have been fed is responsible.” (source)

When I first read that headline, I thought that soy formula was to blame because of its high estrogen content. But no, further investigation revealed that the biggest culprit is actually milk-based formulas. You see, like the US, China has no laws prohibiting the use of bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in dairy cows. Isn’t it wonderful to be part of such a large biological experiment without your consent?

The dairy industry wants you to believe that milk from cows administered growth hormones is safe — that there’s no difference between rBGH milk and regular milk. As such, the labels on milk and cheese and other dairy products aren’t even required to tell you the products are made using rBGH milk. In fact, the only way you’ll know if your dairy comes from cows raised without the hormones is if it’s labeled as such. But guess what? The dairy industry has even fought (unsuccessfully thus far) to keep labels such as “rBGH-free” or “growth hormone free” off of dairy products.

Yet there’s plenty of evidence from around the world implicating growth hormones, not just the recent findings in China:

In the 1980s, doctors in Puerto Rico began encountering cases of precocious puberty. There were four-year-old girls with fully developed breasts. There were three-year old girls with pubic hair and vaginal bleeding. There were one-year-old girls who had not yet begun to walk but whose breasts were growing. And it wasn’t just the females. Young boys were also affected. Many had to have surgery to deal with breasts that had become grossly swollen.

Writing a few years later in the Journal of the Puerto Rico Medical Association, Dr. Carmen A. Saenz explained the cause. “It was clearly observed in 97 percent of the cases that the appearance of abnormal breast tissue was…related to local whole milk in the infants.”

The problem was traced, and found to stem from the misuse of hormones in dairy cows. When Dr. Saenz was asked how she could be certain the babies and children were contaminated with hormones from milk rather than from some other source, she replied simply: “When we take our young patients off… fresh milk, their symptoms usually regress.”

In light of just how much of the infant formula in the U.S. is imported from China, the recent news ought to scare you.

So, what are your alternatives? Of course, the obvious first solution is to breastfeed your babies. If, for whatever reasons, that’s not possible, then there are still better alternatives to commercial formula out there. Check out these life-saving recipes developed by the Weston A. Price Foundation. That page even includes a recipe for how to fortify store-bought formula to make it more nutrient-dense and more easily absorbed.

And, if you want to know how to prioritize your dairy purchases, check out this post on Healthy Milk: What To Buy.

(photo by seandreilinger)


  1. says

    Shocking! I heard a story on NPR not too long ago about a study that showed that American girls are developing younger than ever before and in the story it said that scientists weren’t sure why it was happening. I couldn’t believe it. How could scientists be unsure why it’s happening? It seems pretty obvious to me. Babies developing breasts is so frightening. Imagine what kind of health problems they may have in the future because of this.
    .-= Lovelyn´s last blog post …Tip of the Day =-.

    • says

      There have already been a number of studies linking rBGH use to breast cancer. I wonder what else we’ll turn up.

      Bottom line: unopposed estrogen is a BAD thing. This much estrogen in infants is criminal, and is consigning them to poor health later in life.

  2. Heather says

    Sadly, I’ve read somewhere that boys are developing breasts too for the same reason. I’ve read articles on this several places, so I can’t say where I read it or where the boys were, but if girls reaching puberty in infancy isn’t enough to scare people into fighting for change surely boys with breasts will. I wish.

    How big does the catastrophy have to be before we stop thinking we can improve on nature has already perfected?

    • says

      Oh those poor boys. I wonder: if they eliminate the excess estrogen from their system, do their breasts shrink, or are they stuck with them for life?

  3. says

    I remember reading about a 4 year old in England that had started her menses and was developing breasts. It was horrifying to think that such a young person had to go through those kind of hormonal changes.

    What has to happen before people start to get wise and demand change?

  4. says

    Ugh. This is so gross and so sad. I’m a teacher and you definitely notice how kids are developing faster than they should be. It’s so sad for kids who can’t control what they’re eating. Thanks for the info.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog post …Granola Crunchin Hippie =-.

  5. says

    Thank you for reporting these things. While I am saddened by adults who scoff at information that contradicts what agencies like the FDA tell them, to see them ignore those things that can cause such harm to their children makes me sad beyond measure. I wish people would at least do a little research to see if these things are so!
    .-= Karen´s last blog post …Raw Milk War =-.

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