Expressed milk? No, FedExpressed – just for Elton and David's baby

Singer's decision to fly-in mother's milk boosts the breastfeeding lobby

With two fathers, Zachary Furnish-John might have thought that a diet of infant formula beckoned. But Sir Elton John has emerged as an unlikely champion for nursing mothers after the singer revealed that he has breast milk specially flown in from the US to feed his four-month-old son.

Not just any breast milk either: the pop star's son drinks milk pumped by his surrogate mother and sent via FedEx to the planet's most famous two-dad household. Sir Elton, who became a father on Christmas Day aged 63, along with his 48-year-old partner David Furnish, disclosed Zachary's nutritional regime over the weekend on a US television show.

"She's been providing him with breast milk. We have the breast milk FedExed from where she is," he told the talkshow host Barbara Walters.

The disclosure is a shot in the arm for the breast milk lobby, which might have felt an all-male family was a lost cause. Nursing rates remain low in most developed countries despite government-backed attempts to bolster them. In the UK, only one-third of babies are exclusively breastfed at one week; that figure drops to 7 per cent by the time babies are four months old like Zachary. Most mothers turn instead to milk formula. The most recent figures, from 2005, show that more than half of all infants have had some formula by the time they are seven days old, with 53 per cent of babies fed exclusively on formula at some point between four and 10 weeks of age.

Sir Elton's revelation comes as new research asserts that dubious claims made by infant milk formula manufacturers are undermining breastfeeding and, in some cases, increasing anxieties for new parents. Many products, from follow-on formula to "hungry baby" milks, dupe mothers with unsubstantiated promises that are not backed up by scientific evidence, according to a draft report by the Caroline Walker Trust, which campaigns on nutritional issues.

This "medicalisation" of the infant feeding process is not only unnecessary but can also backfire by encouraging mothers to stop nursing, the report concludes. The proliferation of different types of formula holds out false hope to many parents, making them believe that different and expensive milks may help return their babies' feeding and digestive performance to "normal", inadvertently making them more worried when that does not happen. Encouraging parents to buy more expensive varieties of formula "that may offer no nutritional advantage" could come at the expense of food served to other family members.

The report blames the lack of independent information available about the nutritional composition of infant milks, which it says adds to the confusion for new parents, and calls on the Government to monitor the baby milk market more closely.

Helen Crawley, a nutrition lecturer at City University's Centre for Food Policy, who co-wrote the report, said: "Manufacturers can add anything they like to baby milk formulas provided it is within the regulations, but the regulations are quite flexible."

One contentious area concerns so-called good-night milks, which manufacturers allege help to settle babies at bedtime because they include added ingredients to thicken standard formulas – and keep babies' tummies fuller for longer. Yet the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which provides independent guidance to the Department of Health, warned in 2008 that no published scientific evidence existed to support claims that good-night milks did settle babies better or had any nutritional advantages over the use of other formulas. Cow & Gate, which is owned by the French group Danone, withdrew its Good Night Milk after the warning, and HiPP Organic, the only other company to sell a version, changed its formulation.

A Department of Health spokeswoman declined to comment.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

    Early Years Educator

    £68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

    Nursery Nurse

    £69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

    Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam