Women began to replace breastfeeding with cow’s milk in the 1880s when the U.S. milk supply was still filthy

“In the 1880s, women began in large numbers to supplement their own milk with cows’ milk shortly after giving birth and to wean their babies from the breast before they were 3 months old.

Jacqueline Wolf

This represented a stark change from the colonial era, when mothers normally breastfed at least through infants’ second summer. The move to early weaning was so relentless that doctors complained bitterly in a 1912 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that breastfeeding duration rates had been declining steadily since the mid-19th century ‘and now it is largely a question as to whether the mother will nurse her baby at all’.”

from: Wolf JH: Low breastfeeding rates and public health in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2003 Dec;93(12):2000-10. (full-text)

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