Vishnu H Prasad : An Accidental Civil Servant

Daily TED Talk: What we don’t know about mother’s milk | Katie Hinde

Having become a father recently, seeing this talk on the TED website piqued my curiosity. Lekshmy is given all kinds of different foods that are prescribed by tradition and medicine so that she has enough milk to keep Pranav fed adequately. I was looking to find more about the numerous benefits of breast milk and how it helps the development of the baby.

Dr. Katie Hinde, earned a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington in 1999, a Ph.D. in Anthropology from UCLA in 2008, was a post-doctoral scholar in Neuroscience in the Brain, Mind, and Behavior Unit, California National Primate Research Center, UC Davis from 2009-2011, and served as an Assistant Professor in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

The thrust of this talk is not however on the numerous benefits of breast milk. Rather Katie Hinde is trying to bring our attention to how we, as a society, is failing our mothers and babies. She points to the fact that breast milk as a research subject has produced lesser output than coffee, wine, tomato or even erectile dysfunction.

Research about breastmilk, which is the first drink that any human has in his/her life, needs to be carried out because we know very little about it. For example, the constituents of breast milk vary according to the gender of the kid because the growth requirements of a boy is different from that of a girl. There are also social factors that affect the lactation period and natural breast feeding cycle of a mother. For example, many countries, India included until recently, doesn’t provide adequate paid maternity leave due to which working mothers have to return to office even before they have enough time to bond and adequately feed their baby.

Even though the talk doesn’t get into the benefits of breast milk, it does pitch a very important thought. Are we failing our mothers and babies as a society? In our evolution from nature to civilisation, are we completely sidelining our natural duties? I recommend you watch this talk.


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