Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

What’s wrong with baby formula? It’s not even recommended in disasters

What’s wrong with baby formula? It’s not even recommended in disasters

On Sunday, the NY Times revealed that the Trump administration tried to "water down" the passage of a resolution to promote breastfeeding during the World Health Assembly in May: "Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes".

The U.S. delegation attempted, unsuccessfully, to derail a resolution on the topic of breastfeeding at the World Health Organization's annual meeting in May, The New York Times reported over the weekend.

"The New York Times reported that the USA attempted to "water down" the wording of the resolution, focusing on two passages, the article said: "one requiring that countries "'protect, promote and support breast-feeding, '" and another that would place restrictions on companies selling baby formula that is, according to health officials, harmful.

The Ecuadorian delegation, for instance, was expected to introduce the resolution but was weaned off the idea after the USA threatened to impose harmful trade measures and withdraw military assistance-which the United States is providing in the northern part of the country to help address violence spilling over the border from Colombia. "It was Russian Federation that stepped in and introduced the resolution, but even then the US went around the sort of procedural norms and introduced a competing resolution which required sort of a two-day meeting to hammer out the differences between the resolutions", Jacobs told NPR. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies until they are six months old, and continuing partial breastfeeding for the first year.

A 2016 study by The Lancet found that breastfeeding could save 80,000 child deaths a year across the globe.

The measure was expected to be introduced by Ecuador.

"Formula is the same that you give a newborn infant as you're giving a one-year-old, and human milk is a attractive, amazing, diverse, biological substance that changes every minute of the day for the child", said Dr. Mitchell.

We're told the USA threatened Ecuador with punishing trade measures and the removal of military aid.

Surprise and disappointment continued to register this week over reported US opposition to an global resolution to encourage breastfeeding.

An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response.

A spokesman from the US Department of Health and Human Services told the Times that the original resolution "placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children".

The official said, "Women should have access to full and accurate information about breastfeeding", as well as "full information about safe alternatives when breastfeeding is not possible".

The baby formula industry, which is dominated by US and European companies, has seen stagnant sales in wealthy countries in recent years as breastfeeding becomes more common. The editors then again accused the Trump administration of siding with "corporate interests".

But in the US, disparities in race, income and geography underscore the work that's left to do to support USA mothers who want to give their infants breastmilk. At the same Assembly, U.S. Representatives "succeeded in removing statements supporting soda taxes from a document that advises countries grappling with soaring rates of obesity".

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