Wet nursing was widely practiced from antiquity. For the wealthy, it was a way to overcome the burdens of breastfeeding and increase the number of offspring. For the poor, it was an organized industry ensuring regular payment, and in some parishes the major source of income. The abuse of wet nursing, especially the taking in of several nurslings, prompted legislation which became the basis of public health laws in the second half of the 19th century. The qualifications demanded from a mercenary nurse codified by Soran in the 2nd century CE remained unchanged for 1,700 years. When artificial feeding lost its threat thanks to sewage disposal, improved plumbing, the introduction of rubber teats, cooling facilities and commercial formula, wet nursing declined towards the end of the 19th century.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.