Re: Breastfeeding and Noses.

Barry Mennen (
24 Aug 1996 05:58:31 GMT

In <4vhn2g$> A R Millard
<> writes:
>John Waters ( wrote:
>: Within twenty-four hours of its birth, an Ape baby can crawl
>: and climb up to, its mother=92s breast. A human baby cannot do this.
>: must be lifted up to its mother=92s breast, and its head supported
>: during feeding.
>: At some stage in hominid evolution, the initial extension of the
>: infants period of helplessness must have demanded a degree of
>: maternal assistance in breastfeeding. In these circumstances, it is
>: easy to imagine the possibility of accidental suffocation of the
>: hominid baby, as its head was pushed too close to the nursing
>: female=92s breast. This would probably only affect a small
>: of the hominid population, but it would create an evolutionary
>: demand for downward facing nostrils.
>It is still possible to press the baby to close to the breast and
>it's nostrils, but babies have a reflex by which they stop suckling
>breath through their mouth when this happens. I don't see any
>for downward facing nostrils.
> Dr. Andrew Millard
> Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, Tel: +44 191 374
> South Road, Durham. DH1 3LE. United Kingdom. Fax: +44 191 374
Newborns are obligate nose-breathers. They can't suck and breathe at
the same time. If they have to stop sucking constantly to get their
breath they won't feed very well at all. Don't dismiss Mr. Waters so
swiftly--the lad may be onto something.

Barry Mennen, MD