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Taboos: Why breastfeeding in Mexico still faces social stigma | Society

Denisse, 31, knew that having a baby was going to be hard work, but she didn’t think for a minute that she would have to contend with obstacles like her own family complicating something as simple as breastfeeding. “My husband is older than me and from the beginning, when the subject came up, he told me, ‘I don’t want you to go around showing your boobs in the street,’” she says. “It was the same with my mother. She told me to cover up, but a baby doesn’t let you cover up when you are feeding.”

Although there are numerous articles and campaigns in favor of breastfeeding in Mexico, not to mention the fact that it is globally recognized as the best way to feed babies during their first few months in the world, taboos and myths still get in the way. According to the most recent National Nutrition and Health Survey, only 28.8% of children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed in Mexico. On the other hand, at least seven out of 10 have consumed formula or a breast milk substitute.

The first hours after birth are crucial for babies in terms of food, with breastmilk strongly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). “There is both social and medical pressure [against it], especially for new mothers and, although it is physiologically natural, it can present a major challenge for women,” says Julieta Ponce Sánchez, a nutritionist at the Food Orientation Center in Mexico.

Breastfeeding in the first hours of a baby’s life is not always possible due to hospital protocols established by Mexico’s health system. New mum Laura, who gave birth 14 months ago, recalls the nurses taking her daughter away and not allowing her to see her baby until the following day. “They told me they were going to give her formula to regulate her glucose levels, even though I knew that the best thing to do was to breastfeed her,” she says. Although she was able to breastfeed some hours later, she believes the protocol was wrong. “We went to a private hospital believing that they would let me feed her, but in the end it was the same as a public one.”

Both Denisse and Laura returned home with a prescription for milk formula and a recommendation that they alternate breastfeeding with formula. According to data from the organization Consumer Power, household spending on breast milk substitutes ranges from between $40 and $100 a month.

A group of women breastfeed their babies during a breastfeeding festival in Mexico City to address the social stigma of breastfeeding in public, on August 7, 2022.
A group of women breastfeed their babies during a breastfeeding festival in Mexico City to address the social stigma of breastfeeding in public, on August 7, 2022. QUETZALLI NICTE-HA (REUTERS)

“Remember, formula has to be made with water, and we ignore the quality of the water it’s being made with,” says Ponce. “Imagine what happens in the poorest homes, in remote communities, where the quality of the water is questionable. We are doubling the risk of infectious diseases and, also, tripling the costs for mothers and families.”

Recommendations from pediatricians also play a key role in substituting breastmilk with formula. Carmen went back to work three months after giving birth, and struggled to get her son to accept the breast in the evenings. “His doctor told me that the best thing to do was to give him formula and that he would still have the protection from his first three months breastfeeding,” she says. According to the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, a pediatrician should recommend milk formula only in the event of health issues whether these pertain to the mother or baby; however, half the doctors in Mexico recommend formula, irrespectively.

This is curious given that the quality of formula milk continues to be suspect. Mexico’s Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer (Profeco) conducted a study of formula and flagged up the brands Enfagrow promental, Enfamil lactose-free, Enfamil promental, Nutramigen Premium and SMA Comfort Gold as containing excess corn syrup, “which can boost, among other things, the baby’s desire for the formula,” according to the report.

Allowances in the workplace for breastfeeding mothers is an issue still pending in Mexico’s labor legislation. Verónica Esparza, research coordinator for the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), considers that the responsibility for successful breastfeeding does not lie exclusively with the woman, but also on the conditions that facilitate it. “There are international labor standards that Mexico has not ratified,” she says. “For example, Convention 183 on maternity protection, which provides for maternity leave of at least 14 weeks and bans the dismissal of or discrimination against women on any grounds related to their pregnancy or the birth of their child or breastfeeding.”


Thalía gave birth six months ago, and while she rarely leaves her house, when she does, she prefers to find a private corner in which to feed her son. “Personally, I don’t like to breastfeed in public, but if I have to, I cover up, because it’s very personal,” she says. Denisse also has to seek out private spaces in order to feed her son when in public with her family. “If we go out, I prefer to stay in the parking lot and then go to the restaurant or wherever we go,” she says.

Breastfeeding anxiety is one of the most common syndromes among nursing mothers. “We women carry a double or triple burden because we are the ones who gestate and we are the ones who breastfeed,” says Ponce.

There are several cases of women who have faced discrimination for feeding their babies in public, despite the fact that a survey carried out by the Public Opinion Center of the Valle de México University, showed that 95% would not feel uncomfortable if they saw a woman breastfeeding in public. However, 46% of men said that if a woman in their family were breastfeeding in public they would prefer her to cover up and 87% of women said that if they had to breastfeed in public they would prefer to cover their breasts.

Much of the rejection comes from the misconception that breastfeeding is exhibitionist, immoral or dirty. “The sexualization of breasts is also deeply rooted,” says Ponce. “It’s not just about whether a woman decides to breastfeed or not, but that breastfeeding has been turned into something holy. There is still a lot of work to be done as a society for breastfeeding to be seen as what it is: something perfectly normal.”

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Chemistry Problems & Quantum Computing

The researchers compared the results of a conventional and quantum computer to minimise error calculations, which could eventually be scaled up to solve more complicated problems.

Scientists in Sweden have successfully managed to use a quantum computer to solve simple chemistry problems, as a proof-of-concept for more advanced calculations.

Currently, conventional supercomputers are used in quantum chemistry to help scientists learn more about chemical reactions, which materials can be developed and the characteristics they have.

But these conventional computers have a limit to the calculations they can handle. It is believed quantum computers will eventually be able to handle extremely complicated simulations, which could lead to new pharmaceutical discoveries or the creation of new materials.

However, these quantum machines are so sensitive that their calculations suffer from errors. Imperfect control signals, interference from the environment and unwanted interactions between quantum bits – qubits – can lead to “noise” that disrupts calculations.

The risk of errors grows as more qubits are added to a quantum computer, which complicates attempts to create more powerful machines or solve more complicated problems.

Comparing conventional and quantum results

In the new study by Chalmers University, scientists aimed to resolve this noise issue through a method called reference-state error mitigation.

This method involves finding a “reference state” by describing and solving the same problem on both a conventional and a quantum computer.

The reference state is a simpler description of a molecule that can be solved by a normal computer. By comparing the results from both computers, the scientists were able to estimate the scale of error the quantum computer had in its calculation.

The difference between the two computers’ results for the simpler reference problem was then applied to correct the quantum computer’s solution for the original, more complex problem.

This method allowed the scientists to calculate the intrinsic energy of small example molecules such as hydrogen on the university’s quantum computer.

Associate professor Martin Rahm – who led the study – believes the result is an important step forward that can be used to improve future quantum-chemical calculations.

“We see good possibilities for further development of the method to allow calculations of larger and more complex molecules, when the next generation of quantum computers are ready,” Rahm said.

Research is happening around the world to fix the problems limiting the development of more advanced quantum computers.

Earlier this month, Tyndall’s Prof Peter O’Brien told about his group’s work in addressing a key challenge in quantum technology and how quantum communications will make eavesdropping ‘impossible’.

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A Chilling Resurgence Of The “Vampire Fish” In The Great Lakes

The notorious sea lamprey, a creepy parasitic fish, resurges in the Great Lakes, wreaking havoc on native species.

The Creepy Invader Emerges

In the eerie waters of the Great Lakes, a parasitic fish has emerged from the depths, thriving on a bloodsucking mission. Meet the sea lamprey, a creature with a haunting circular row of teeth, a serrated tongue, and an eel-like shape. Native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean, this nightmarish creature invaded the Great Lakes in the early 19th century through the Welland Canal, which links Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Once it infiltrated the pristine waters, the lamprey set about its insidious predation on commercially important fish, including trout, whitefish, perch, and sturgeon. The consequences were catastrophic.

A Century of Devastation

Within a mere decade, the sea lamprey gained access to all five Great Lakes, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Its unchecked proliferation led to the collapse of the once-thriving trout fishery within a century. By the 1960s, the lamprey had inflicted such damage that the annual commercial catch of lake trout in the upper Great Lakes plummeted from around 15 million pounds to a meager half a million pounds.

A Battle Against the Vampire Fish

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, alongside the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, took up arms against this highly invasive species. With ardent determination, they sought to manage and reduce the sea lamprey population, and their efforts yielded significant success. The fishery commission proudly boasts on its website that sea lamprey populations have been diminished by a staggering 90 percent in most areas of the Great Lakes.

The “vampire fish” sea lamprey makes a chilling comeback, threatening the delicate balance of the Great Lakes’ aquatic life.

The Pandemic’s Interruption

However, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, the agencies’ crucial operations to control the lamprey’s resurgence suffered a chilling interruption. With travel restrictions in place and resources stretched thin, fishery managers faced daunting challenges. The pandemic’s insidious impact reached the heart of the Great Lakes, allowing the parasitic fish to take advantage of the hiatus.

The Reemergence

As restrictions eased and operations resumed, a grim revelation awaited the fishery managers. The parasitic fish had cunningly exploited the opportunity, and their population began to creep back across the Great Lakes. Reports from the Wall Street Journal indicated that the sea lamprey population had resurged, sending shivers down the spines of those who witnessed its wrath in the past.

Lampreys belong to the superclass Cyclostomata and represent the most ancient group of vertebrates. Existing for over 360 million years, they are known as living fossils due to their many evolutionally conserved features

A Fragile Balance

Exact figures of the resurgence remain uncertain, but the implications are undeniably ominous. According to a 2022 report by Undark Magazine, crews responsible for population control were only able to treat about 25 percent of the target streams in 2020, leaving the lamprey unchecked. The following year saw a partial recovery, as the teams reached 75% of their targets. Nevertheless, the challenge remains enormous, and the careful application of pesticides called lampricides is essential to reduce the lamprey population.

After pandemic disruptions, the sea lamprey population surges, posing a formidable challenge for conservationists in the Great Lakes.

The Cost of Confrontation

The battle against the lamprey is not merely a spooky tale—it comes with a substantial price tag. Controlling this aquatic menace is estimated to cost around $15 to $20 million annually, reflecting the magnitude of the threat it poses to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Joining the Fight

As the resurgence of the “vampire fish” casts a shadow over the Great Lakes, the need for decisive action becomes evident. Stakeholders must unite in their mission to protect the delicate balance of this vital ecosystem. The battle against the sea lamprey requires collective effort and resources, with innovative approaches to safeguarding the region’s rich biodiversity.

A Race Against Time

With the sinister sea lamprey gaining ground, time is of the essence. As this dark chapter unfolds, the eyes of the world are on the Great Lakes, waiting to witness the outcome of this gripping struggle. The clock is ticking, and the stakes have never been higher.

Seizing the Opportunity

For environmental advocates, researchers, and those invested in the well-being of the Great Lakes, the resurgence of the “vampire fish” serves as a chilling reminder of the fragility of our ecosystems.

Embracing sustainable practices, collaborative efforts, and innovative solutions, there is hope that the Great Lakes can once again emerge victorious against this formidable foe.

A Battle for the Ages

As the lamprey saga continues, it will be a tale of resilience, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of balance. The world holds its breath, awaiting the final chapter in this eerie narrative—a chapter that will determine the fate of one of North America’s most treasured aquatic ecosystems.

Contact us now to learn how you can support the battle against the “vampire fish” and join the ranks of those committed to preserving the Great Lakes for generations to come. Let your voice be heard in this harrowing tale of nature’s tenacity and mankind’s dedication.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

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The Implications Of Controlling High-Level Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

By Clint Bailey | ‘The Voice of EU’

The notion of artificial intelligence surpassing humanity has long been a topic of discussion, and recent advancements in programs have reignited concerns. But can we truly control super-intelligence? A closer examination by scientists reveals that the answer is highly unlikely.

Unraveling The Challenge:

Controlling a super-intelligence that surpasses human comprehension necessitates the ability to simulate and analyze its behavior. However, if we are unable to comprehend it, creating such a simulation becomes an impossible task. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to establish rules, such as “cause no harm to humans,” as we cannot anticipate the scenarios that an AI might generate.

The Complexity Of Super-Intelligence:

Super-intelligence presents a distinct challenge compared to conventional robot ethics. Its multifaceted nature allows it to mobilize diverse resources, potentially pursuing objectives that are incomprehensible and uncontrollable to humans. This fundamental disparity further complicates the task of governing and setting limits on super-intelligent systems.

Drawing Insights From The Halting Problem:

Alan Turing’s halting problem, introduced in 1936, provides insights into the limitations of predicting program outcomes. While we can determine halting behavior for specific programs, there is no universal method capable of evaluating every potential program ever written. In the realm of artificial super-intelligence, which could theoretically store all possible computer programs in its memory simultaneously, the challenge of containment intensifies.

The Uncontainable Dilemma:

When attempting to prevent super-intelligence from causing harm, the unpredictability of outcomes poses a significant challenge. Determining whether a program will reach a conclusion or continue indefinitely becomes mathematically impossible for all scenarios. This renders traditional containment algorithms unusable and raises concerns about the reliability of teaching AI ethics to prevent catastrophic consequences.

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The Limitation Conundrum:

An alternative approach suggested by some is to limit the capabilities of super-intelligence, such as restricting its access to certain parts of the internet or networks. However, this raises questions about the purpose of creating super-intelligence if its potential is artificially curtailed. The argument arises: if we do not intend to use it to tackle challenges beyond human capabilities, why create it in the first place?


Urgent Reflection – The Direction Of Artificial Intelligence:

As we push forward with artificial intelligence, we must confront the possibility of a super-intelligence beyond our control. Its incomprehensibility makes it difficult to discern its arrival, emphasizing the need for critical introspection regarding the path we are treading. Prominent figures in the tech industry, such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI experiments to evaluate safety and potential risks to society.

The potential consequences of controlling high-level artificial super-intelligence are far-reaching and demand meticulous consideration. As we strive for progress, we must strike a balance between pushing the boundaries of technology and ensuring responsible development. Only through thorough exploration and understanding can we ensure that AI systems benefit humanity while effectively managing their risks.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

By Clint Bailey, Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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