Formula Milk Study Involving Newborns in Indonesia Halted After Protests

By webadmin on 03:33 pm Feb 04, 2013
Category Archive

Dessy Sagita

A controversial research study in Indonesia about formula milk that was
going to use newborns as test subjects has officially been halted
following massive protests from the public and pro-breast-feeding
activists.

“We are very thankful that the study has been dropped,
which means they won’t be testing and harming perfectly healthy
newborns just for the sake of research,” Utami Roesli, chairwoman of the
Indonesian Breast-feeding Center, said on Monday.

In a letter
sent to the Association of Indonesia Breast-Feeding Mothers (AIMI), the
University of Indonesia medical school said that the study, known as the
Daffodil Study, would no longer be carried out.

The study, which was
supposed to be conducted by a group of researchers from UI’s medical
school, was aimed at finding which formula milk most closely resembled
breast milk. The study planned to use four-month-old babies as test
subjects.

In December, pro-breast-feeding groups initiated a
movement against the study. An online petition at change.org gathered
more than 1,500 signatures by January.

The pro-breast-feeding
groups also met with Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi to ask that the study
be stopped. The minister said she agreed the study should be stopped
unless it met three requirements: that it would only involve babies more
than six months old, that the financier of the research be revealed and
that the study would not compare breast-milk with formula milk.

Utami said the study would jeopardize Indonesia’s efforts to promote breast-feeding.

“After
all this time and so much hard work, we’re finally seeing a bit of
progress, but the study would turn all of this hard work into nothing,”
she said.

A 2007 study found that only 32 percent of Indonesian
mothers breast-fed their babies exclusively for six months. In 2011 the
figure rose to 42 percent, but this is still lower than the rate in
neighboring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

The main researcher of Daffodil study, Darmawan Budi Setyanto, said halting the study would not benefit Indonesian babies.

“We,
the researchers, are not losing anything if the Daffodil study is
halted; the loss would be suffered by Indonesian babies. Of course,
breast-milk is good, but not all babies are that lucky. Some babies are
not fortunate enough to be exclusively breast-fed,” he said.

Darmawan
said the study was aimed at finding the best formula milk to help
babies whose mothers, due to whatever reason, could not breast-feed
them.

“But there was so much protest,” he said, adding that they complied with the requirements set out by the Health Ministry. However, he didn’t respond when asked by the Jakarta Globe who was supposed to finance the study.

“Even though we tried to fulfill all the necessary requirements, we decided it would be best to just drop the study,” he said.