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Breast is Best! campaign wants to ban formula in hospitals

Breast is best! Simmer down boys, I’m talking about babies and breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding campaign groups want formula out of hospitals. They are demanding that the hospitals stop giving away free formula to new mothers.

Dozens of groups sent out letters to more than 2,600 hospitals across the nation, asking facilities to immediately stop distributing the free samples.

Giving formula to new parents discourages some new mothers from breastfeeding, the groups said in a letter sent by the advocacy group Public Citizen.

The groups are also petitioning the $4 billion infant formula industry’s leaders, Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co and Nestle SA, to discontinue the practice of giving away free samples to hospitals.

The protest is part of a renewed effort to boot U.S. breastfeeding rates, which is said to have health benefits for the baby.

Only 14% of 6-month-old babies are exclusively breastfed, something U.S. health officials want to increase to about 26% by 2020.

About 66% of hospitals still give away formula samples, down from nearly 73% in 2007, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last year found. But, formula makers and hospitals defend the free samples, saying they are meeting women’s needs.

“We can’t forget that some moms even though they plan to breastfeed, they either can’t or they decide not to,” said International Formula Council Executive Vice President Mardi Mountford.

“We believe they want more information, not less.”

Some hospitals disagree and have already stopped formula giveaways altogether, and a few states and cities have banned the practice, including California, Texas and New York City.

New mothers are instead given a breast-milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breastfeeding tips and a baby T-shirt in their bags.

Breastfeeding coaches then accompany the mothers at bedside ‘to help initiate breastfeeding within one hour of delivery,’ where they also give out free breast pumps, making hospital-grade electric breast pumps available to mothers whose newborns have to remain in the hospital.

The American Hospital Association responded to the letters in a statement, saying its members draft policies based on mothers’ preferences.

While they agree breastfeeding is best, “having information and resources available for mothers who choose not to breastfeed is a responsible and supportive approach for the hospital.”

What do you think about the ban? Is it anyone’s business?

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This entry was posted on April 18, 2012 by in Online Dish.
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