James W. Prescott, Ph.D.

James W. Prescott, Ph.D. letter Dr. Charles H. Halstead, Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Letter of February 15, 2006 that alerts him to the dangers of infant formula feeding for the formation of the brain neurotransmitters necessary for social bonding and requesting his support for a national review of this subject by DHHS Secretary Leavitt and the urgent need to take corrective actions.

BIOBEHAVIORAL SYSTEMS http://www.violence.de/politics.shtml

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 15 February 2006

 Charles H. Halsted, MD


The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

3247 Meyer Hall

University of California

One Shields Avenue

Davis, CA 95616-8790

 Dear Dr. Halstead,

 For some years I have been struggling to convince Dr. Alexander, Director, NICHD, the various Directors, NIH and Dr. Gartner, Chairman, Section on Breastfeeding, American Academy of Pediatrics of the ultimate significance of mother-infant/child bonding for the future health of the child, mother and society without success.

 Breastfeeding bonding plays a particularly crucial role in this process with the recognition that human breastmilk contains vital brain nutrients for normal brain development and behavior that are significantly deficient in infant formula milk. Of particular significance are the essential amino acids, particularly Tryptophan and Tyrosine/Phenylalanine, precursors to the development of the brain serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter systems.

 There is increasing scientific evidence that it takes breastfeeding bonding for "two years of age and beyond" to optimize normal brain/behavioral development. These data are reviewed in the enclosed copies of correspondence with Dr. Zerhouni, Dr. Alexander and Dr. Gartner. Their refusal to acknowledge this data and the data summarized in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition prompted me to write a letter to DHHS Secretary Leavitt, enclosed. This correspondence is posted at http://www.violence.de/politics.shtml.

 I am requesting that you share with your colleagues this correspondence, particularly my letter to DHHS Secretary Leavitt to initiate a nation-wide scientific inquiry on the harm and injury inflicted upon the infant/child due to infant formula feeding and to insufficient breastfeeding bonding for the normal emotional-social-sexual development of this nation's children and youth.

 You should be aware that my studies on 26 tribal cultures where weaning age is 2.5 years or greater, 77% were rated low or absent in suicide and in a larger sample of 65 cultures, 86% (31/36) of low suicide cultures have a weaning age of 30 months or greater; 34% (10/29) of high suicide cultures have a weaning age of 24 months or less. A statistically significant difference was found between these two groups of cultures that suggest a formative period of brain development to account for these results.

 These data are summarized in the enclosed correspondence and in my article: "Prevention or Therapy and the Politics of Trust: Inspiring a New Human Agenda", posted at:

http://www.violence.de/archive.shtml, which illuminates the complexities of culture that are needed to support mothers being nurturing mothers, copy enclosed. It takes a particular kind of culture to support mothers' breastfeeding for "two years of age or beyond", as recommended by WHO and UNICEF.

 Your attention is drawn to a NICHD supported study conducted by Dr. Mary Coleman (1971), which established in the non-human primate that mother-infant separation leads to deficiencies in platelet serotonin, posted at http://www.violence.de/coleman/article.html. Other deficits of brain -behavioral development are listed on this website and the wide variety of emotional behavioral disorders due to mother-infant separation are illustrated in the photo collage, enclosed.

 Two recent studies, one by Fries, et al (2005) demonstrated deficits of brain function (oxytocin and arginine vasopressin-neuropeptide mediators of social bonds) in children reared in institutions compared to family reared children, where, unfortunately, measures of serotonin and dopamine where not made; and by Sharp (2006) that documented a brain protein called p11 and a serotonin receptor (5-HT 1B subtype) that are known to mediate depression with its deficit and relief with its elevation. Sharp noted "…the authors show that a deficit of p11 is linked to depression, whereas an increase in p11 is linked to relief of depression" and "Recent studies…have firmly linked this receptor to an extraordinarily diverse range of physiological functions and behaviors including not only mood but also cognition, aggression, addiction, sleep and feeding (3)".

 Sharp raised the question:

 "What might cause a deficit in p11 expression in depression? Evidence that other serotonin-related gene products (including tryptophan hydroxylase, 5-HT 1A receptors, and the serotonin transporter) are abnormal in depression (7) suggests that generalized dysfunction of serotonin neurons, possibly of developmental origin, may be responsible (enclosed).

 There was no mention of the absence of breastfeeding or of impaired breastfeeding bonding, as a developmental source of this protein dysfunction. What is the level of p11 in breastfed infants (3, 6, 12,18, 24 and 30+ months) vs non-breastfed infants? Sharp concludes: "The case for p11 as a key molecule in mood regulation is convincing, and it is now timely for translational science to take this exciting development to the next step".

 I would be remiss in not citing the study of Zheng, et al (2000) that breastfeeding for two years or longer reduces breast cancer by 50% or greater, a study not cited nor reviewed by the American Academy of Pediatrics in its Policy Statement "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (2005) (abstract enclosed).

  These findings assume greater significance in the light of the recent findings of the costly 425 million eight -year diet study on fats that found no relationship between diet and breast cancer. No link was made to the extraordinary rise in breast cancer in modern cultures to the parallel rise in infant formula feeding.

 It is time for a "wake-up call" of the scientific community who apparently do not know how to connect the dots and to quantify the harmful effects of infant formula feeding on brain-behavioral development with all that this entails.

 It is urgent that weaning age of every child should be a part of the immunological record, which is now lacking, as is it is also not recorded in the NICHD sponsored "National Children's Study".

 I urge you and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition   to take the national leadership on this matter, as the NICHD and the NIH have abdicated their national scientific and moral leadership on these issues. Such leadership would facilitate the "translational science (needed) to take this exciting development to the next step".

 I am copying this letter with enclosures to DHHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt; Drs Zerhouni and Alexander and Dr. Gartner so that they are informed of the urgency of this matter.


 James W. Prescott, Ph.D.


 Cc:       DHHS Secretary Leavitt

            Dr. Zerhouni, Director, NIH

            Dr. Alexander, Director, NICHD

            Dr. Gartner, AAP