October 1, 2004
Michael S. Somma, Jr. Esq.
Attorney at Law
2430 East 74th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11234
Dear Mr. Somma,
I have reviewed the medical records and other information provided me by the Spindell family. I must say I am a bit at a loss as to how a diagnosis of failure to thrive can be made and held to a degree where a child is removed from a home.
My first recognition is that the paper provided entirely reiterates the picture of intelligence and ability to grasp medical and nutritional information that was my impression of Raphael when we corresponded about child nutrition and attachment parenting years ago.
The child needs to be measured on a growth curve that is designed for breastfed babies. The chart that Baby Spindell was plotted on is created chiefly based upon formula-fed infants. Studies demonstrate that formula-fed infants generally present an excess of fat, which is shown to be a result of their efforts to gain enough protein and nutrients from formula; a difficult to assimilate laboratory imitation of the nutritional components of breastmilk. Both protein and appropriate fatty acids are difficult to attain adequately from formula, and thus formula-fed infants take in 10 percent more calories than naturally fed children. While the protein and fats are poorly utilized, the excess carbohydrates are easily stored in the body as fat. While no studies suggest any benefit to this excess fat in formula-fed infants, there are studies that portray that rapid or excess weight gain in infancy and childhood are linked to an increased risk of adult obesity and cancer.
The child was born 4 weeks prematurely. It is standard and obviously appropriate to subtract this month from the child’s birth age. It is standard to use gestational age on growth charts up until the age of two years.
I like the above charts because they demonstrate the breastfed growth superimposed over the standard growth charts.
I would like you to see my meticulously kept growth charts of my own son, as measured by me (each after bowel movements) on a high-quality medical pediatric scale. The faltering after 9 months and the great faltering after 12 months represent our first failed attempt and second determination to introduce solid foods into our son’s breastmilk diet. He essentially gained no weight between 12 and 14.75 months. He then gained two pounds in the following month, even though our feeding efforts had not changed in that period. I felt little concern for him at this time, as I recognized it to be a very common occurrence in the child playgroups that we attended. Many of their doctors told them that it was due to their greater physical activity in beginning to crawl or walk, (depending on the age the slowing occurred), and some of the doctors recognized this opportunity as one to suggest formula supplementation, being dutiful to their frequently visiting formula company representatives. My son’s weight for length chart is also an excellent example of the spurts and stalls that a child makes in growth. Even though he had fallen well below the lowest measurement on the chart at 8 months, at 9 years of age and tall and slender like his parents, he scores at the 99 percentile on his academic SAT exams. He is healthy and well coordinated physically. This characterizes that his “faltering” represented no harm to him mentally or physically.
It is well known that breastfed infants become ill or growth falter during the weaning process – the point at which a significant amount of solid foods are being consumed, replacing much of their easy-to-digest, immune-providing breastmilk. This known fact is used by scientists to determine weaning ages of skeletal finds of children in archeological digs. Illnesses show up as marks on the teeth, (and weaning is found archeologically to begin at 2 to 3 years of age). This drop in health is not seen in formula-fed babies, as there is no sudden loss of immune provisions. Formula-fed children are just always sick more often, as known through multitudes of studies.
All infants and children have slow-growth periods and periods of growth spurts. The curves on the growth charts look so smooth because they are averages. A child can also carry almost a pound of urine and feces. These factors need to be accounted for when considering weights of children.
Head circumference and length need to be looked at as the increase over time from the measurements taken at birth. A short time interval measurement is not highly significant as again there are definite spurts and stalls in these measurements in all children. Length increase will also generally correspond to the height of the parents.
As the parents chose to immediately bring their child to a hospital when he had a fever, it is apparent that they are concerned about his health and any illnesses. He has no record of chronic or frequent illness, representing a healthy child in this aspect.
The child’s grandmother stated for a newspaper reporter that the child was always happy and smiling, until he was removed from his mother’s care. This absolutely does not represent an unhealthy, failure-to-thrive child.
I fail to understand the thinking behind the idea that an artificially concocted imitation of human milk, absent any immune-providing or absorption-facilitating components, and based on the milk of a very different animal, should be considered to be healthier for a human child than human milk which has sustained us for our many thousands of years of existence.
Fourteen months of age is very young to remove a child from the breast in terms of what is natural to humans and what demonstrates the absolute healthiest results in every parameter of physical and mental development as well as long-term health. It is considered harmful and cruel to remove an intended pet from the milk of their mother before their natural term of nursing. A human child should deserve the same respect. I am sorry that the Spindell child will not be able to enjoy the full life-long health benefits of non-premature weaning – benefits that his parents clearly desired for him. I am even more devastated for the child in terms of the emotional consequences that he and the entire family will pay for the forced weaning and forced abandonment imposed on this young innocent. Decades of psychological attachment research encourage us that a profound negative effect on the child is a surety. Modern hormonal, neurological, and biochemical studies confirm the psychologists’ earlier claims. The longer he is held from non-disrupted nurturing and bonding with his mother, the greater will be the damage.
As is to be expected when the mother has little opportunity to respond hormonally through regular exposure to and suckling from her baby, Alexandra’s milk is drying up. This absolute most nourishing and immune-providing gift that she has to provide her child is being taken away from her for exactly the opposite purpose of the intention.
In industrialized nations, a child who was never breastfed, fed only formula from birth, has a 26 percent increased risk of infant death. Compared to a child who received at least some breastmilk up to 3 months of age, a child who received less breastmilk or no breastmilk has a 61% increased risk of death. (Chen, Pediatrics, 113, No. 5, 2004.) My own published evaluation of the available breastfeeding statistical literature demonstrates that a child fed exclusively on breastmilk for at least 6 months with continued breastmilk through the end of infancy, (12 months), has half the risk of infant death as one who never received any breastmilk. This fact does not bode well for suggesting that formula would be a superior food to provide a child over breastmilk. Every single study that also looks at the effects of extended breastfeeding, finds that children continue to benefit in terms of health and development, and their lifelong health is positively impacted accordingly. The benefit attained correlates directly with the duration of breastfeeding. The number of studies demonstrating the superiority of human milk, (i.e. the dangers of formula), are far too numerous to begin to cite here.
The baby was anemic. Studies show that children exclusively breastfed for 9 months of age, (there is no study beyond that in terms of children from industrialized nations), have excellent iron levels and a low incidence of anemia – much lower than the frequency of anemia in formula-fed infants. Early introduction of high-iron foods are important in formula-fed infants because it is so difficult for them to absorb iron from formula and because the dairy protein often causes minute digestive tract fissures and intestinal bleeding.
As soon as any iron-containing foods are introduced into the diet of a breastfed baby, the iron from mother’s milk, which was previously highly absorbable without competition, becomes much less available. Her lactoferrin becomes bound in a sense by this added iron and can no longer perform its intended job with efficiency. Iron-consuming bacteria now begin to inhabit the gut. These are the more dangerous flora that are responsible for the greater number of diarrheal illnesses seen in formula-fed children. This is also an inevitable path to maturity. As these iron-hungry bacteria flourish in their new home through the first months of supplemental iron from solid foods in a breastfed child’s diet, much iron from the diet is consumed by these microbes and is thus not available for baby. As I said, mother’s own iron provisions also become compromised. For this reason, it is well known by breastfeeding experts and some aware pediatricians that the period of solid food introduction is the period of greatest risk for iron deficiency in a breastfed child. I personally always recommend that first foods begin as non-iron containing foods. Once iron-containing foods are desired, they should transition to high iron provision. This information, unfortunately, is not made widely available to the breastfeeding public, as pediatricians gain their nutritional information almost exclusively from formula companies and formula company led adventures.
Seven percent of all toddlers are iron deficient, so the Spindell baby is no unusual case. As soon as the mother learned of the child’s anemia, she greatly increased the amount of iron provided in her son’s diet. The iron provided was from natural forms that are shown to be superior in utilization in the human body above the various chemically derived versions prescribed medically. The high calcium in cow’s milk is known to bind with supplemental iron and thus dairy products should definitely be avoided when one is attempting to increase iron levels. Vitamin C is very important in assisting with iron absorption and this child’s diet was very high vitamin C as well, although what I know of his current diet does not suggest the same. Because it takes approximately 60 days for the body to completely replace all of its red blood cells, and because iron absorption and storage do not occur abruptly, rather over time, the iron status increases gradually once iron supplementation begins, if other conditions are appropriate. This child’s iron status was increasing after first discovery, and I hope to see it continue to do so.
An anemic child is at risk for a greater number of illnesses. Some immune assistance would be of great benefit to him at such a time. The only source for immune assistance, (with a vast array of immune promoting factors), is from human milk. Apparently it was helping to protect him.
An anemic child, or one who experienced anemia for some period as an infant, is known to perform lower on intelligence parameters in school. The only known, proven means to increase a child’s intellectual performance is to provide him with breastmilk – at first exclusively, and then for an extended duration, for the greatest impact.
It is a complete disservice to the health of this anemic child to remove him from his best chance for optimal outcome from his unfortunate period of anemia.
One cause for anemia is a lack of vitamin B12. Vegans are at risk of B12 deficiency and most are keenly aware of this fact and take measures to prevent this. I know that years before the birth of his son, Raphael was keenly aware of the measures needed to be taken to maintain adequate B12, as he displayed articles about this on his website. I would assume that his wife was providing adequate B12 in her breastmilk, as it was likely included in her own diet. Once weaning foods were introduced to the baby, a B12 source was added to his diet, in the form of nutritional yeast.
Recovery from anemia is not going to occur without appropriate B12 availability. I recommend that B12 be measured in the baby at this time if it has not been already.
Baby Spindell does not have a diet absent of whole animal sources, as human milk is a whole animal source and it has the absolute most-optimal blends of fatty acids and proteins for a human child. The fatty acid profile in formulas is far inferior and the reduced intelligence, coordination, and eyesight measured in formula-fed children represents this. This is the reason why formula companies have recently tried adding a couple forms of fatty acids found in human milk, but with incomplete benefits demonstrated at this time.
In the absence of meat, eggs, fish, or cow’s milk, I strongly recommend that Baby Spindell receive breastmilk for at least the first 2.5 years of his life. More than 3 years would be better. Beyond this point, his basic brain development should be secured and he will be able to live well on an entirely vegan diet. The mother may need professional lactation consultation right now in order to regain adequate milk production.
Every single paper that includes any or all vegetables in their assessments of dietary risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a multitude of other diseases finds that vegetables are key to reduced risks and increased survival. Vegetables and human milk are the absolute healthiest choices that any toddler could possibly receive. As milk consumption levels reduce, the child needs other sources of protein. Baby Spindell has been receiving ample quantities of seeds, nuts, and legumes. These sources are shown to be superior to meat in studies of long-term survival and prevention of disease.
The suggested caloric intake in the paper provided by the Spindells is high for his age and size and I imagine that these are the foods that were offered to the child, but I doubt that they were all consumed in entirety, nor should that quantity be.
Below is a list found on a pediatrician’s website of the most common foods consumed by young toddlers. I fail to see how this child’s previously incredibly nutrient-dense diet could possibly fail to shine above the below, or above the formula, cooked carrots, and cooked potatoes, and whatever else is being presently fed to Baby Spindell. I am at a loss as to what specific nutrients they felt the child was needing, other than more iron.
MOST COMMON TODDLER FOODS:
* american cheese (one slice) = 45 calories
* apple (1/2 small apple) = 40 calories
* banana (1/2) = 50 calories
* beef, ground ( ounces) = 85 calories
* bologna (1 slice) = 90 calories
* bread (1/2 - 1 slice) = 20-40 calories
* breakfast cereal (1/4-1/2 cup) = 40-80 calories
* chicken nuggets (3 - 6 pieces) = 105-210 calories
* eggs (1/2 - 1 egg) = 35-70 calories
* french fries (7 - 15 steak fries) = 60 - 120 calories
* french fries (8 - 17 Funky Fries) = 150-300 calories
* fruit cocktail, canned (1/4 ounce) = 50 calories
* Grahm Crackers (1 - 2 sheets) = 60-120 calories
* grape jelly (1 tablespoon) = 50 calories
* hot dog (1/2 - 1 hotdog) = 60-120 calories
* ice cream (1/2 cup) = 135 calories
* Macaroni & Cheese (2 1/2 ounces) = 260 calories
* mozzarella cheese (1 ounce) = 80 calories
* pancakes (1) = 60 calories
* peanut butter (1 tablespoon smooth and thinly spread) = 95 calories
* pizza, cheese (1/2 - 1 slice) = 140-290 calories
* Pop Tart (1/2 - 1 pastry) = 1-200 calories
* popsicle (1) = 70 calories
* pudding (1/2 cup) = 110 calories
* vegetables (1 tablespoon per year of age) = 25 calories/tablespoon
* yogurt (1/3 cup) = 50 calories
I became familiar with Raphael through telephone conversations and e-mails about 5 years ago through our shared interest in pediatric nutrition and the multitude drawbacks of replacing human milk with that made for baby cows. We were both developing evidence-based natural parenting, child health and nutrition websites. I learned that he was interested in evidence-based nutrition and was impressed with him for this reason; as I too am interested only in information that is supported by Science and medical research in peer-reviewed science journals, as opposed to that which is purported by the formula industry and taught by them to pediatricians for commercial reasons. We shared journal citations and various favorite web articles with each other for a while. While I am not vegan, I have respect for his opinions and his cause. No one can suggest that his cause of animal and environmental protection is not a higher calling than yours or mine. I do choose to limit my meat intake and avoid most dairy in my own life, for health reasons, opting for nutritious vegetables, fish, legumes and the like in expectation of greatly reducing my risk of many, well actually most, chronic illnesses that challenge our population. I do not give dairy to my child, for the same reasons. He happens to be one of only two children in his class of 10 at school who has not broken a bone.
I graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a Doctorate in Chiropractic, with two minors in Chemistry and Biology. My 5 year post-graduate education at the National College of Chiropractic outside of Chicago, Illinois, included a much greater degree of nutrition education than that provided in medical schools. I practiced chiropractic for eleven years, specializing in nutrition, until the health challenges of my newborn son led me to retire and take a different path. I learned quickly that I needed to find my own answers if I were to save my child. I found that an enormous amount of evidence-based scientific information was available; not in my pediatrician’s office or in standard childcare books, but in science and medical journals. This information is what saved the life of my son who was at a very early risk for failure to thrive.
I ended up putting together thousands of these papers to write my 400 page infant health book, Baby Matters, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby. My book contains 1100 specific science-journal references to back up its thorough discussion of optimal infant nutrition and emotional support. Along with many glowing reviews from many known parenting sources and authors, I also was honored with a radiant review from the peer-reviewed science journal, Journal of Human Lactation. I have many infant nutrition articles published in various sources and have been interviewed many times on television and radio. I serve as an infant nutrition and parenting expert on Mothering magazine’s expert panel. I taught nutrition and physiology at a local college for two years while awaiting an agent and publisher for my book. After publication I began to practice privately as a nutritional consultant for chiefly breastfeeding mothers. I also presently work part time as a Research Associate for a Breast Cancer research laboratory.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Linda Folden Palmer, DC
1229 Trieste Drive,
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 871-9126 (cell)
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