A leading breastfeeding advocate has sparked outrage by telling expectant mothers that baby formula was "like AIDS".
The shocking statement was made during an Australian Breastfeeding Association class that an undercover Sunday Mail journalist attended after a pregnant woman called the paper to complain about a previous class.
Couples were also told baby formula killed a child "every 30 seconds" and should be avoided at all costs.
"Formula is a little bit like AIDS," the instructor a celebrated member of the association told the class.
"Nobody actually dies from AIDS; what happens is AIDS destroys your immune system and then you just die of anything and that's what happens with formula. It provides no antibodies.
"Every 30 seconds a baby dies from infections due to a lack of breastfeeding and the use of bottles, artificial milks and other risky products. Every 30 seconds."
Medical professionals have furiously rebuked the claims, saying that while breastfeeding is "optimal", formula feeding is 100 percent safe.
"We highly support breastfeeding," Royal Australasian College of Physicians spokesperson Susan Moloney said.
"It is the optimal form of nutrition for any human infant. But in the cases where it isn't able to be done, formula feeding is safe in Australia."
Parents have also attacked the statement, accusing breastfeeding advocates of "scaremongering".
"Not all people can, or want to, breastfeed and while there are other options around why should they?" Brisbane father Tim Groves wrote.
"If formula was that bad for infants don't you think it would have been removed from the market by now? Leave the raising of children to the parents and stop the scaremongering campaign."
Ipswich mother Dianne Ward agreed, calling for an end to breastfeeding advocates who make mothers feel like "failures" if they can't breastfeed.
"What a horrible thing to tell an expectant or new mum," she wrote. "I am a firm believer in breastfeeding, but there are some mums who can't breastfeed.
"They should not be made to feel like a failure because it happens."
The Australian Breastfeeding Association has launched an investigation into the comments, with its president Rachel Fuller branding the statements "inappropriate".
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Video: Investigation underway into claims bottle-feeding is "a bit like AIDS"