Medical

Trump says US had opposed formula limits, not breastfeeding

Trump says US had opposed formula limits, not breastfeeding

"What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the USA holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health", Patti Rundall, the policy director of the advocacy group Baby Milk Action, told the New York Times.

According to the New York Times, the U.S.'s decision to side against breastfeeding shocked World Health officials and set off a contentious debate, which more than a dozen people from several countries recounted for the report.

The New York Times says the United States threatened Ecuador and other small countries with trade and military repercussions, but it provides no evidence to support the claim outside of anonymous sources.

"Though Ecuador withdrew its support for the resolution, Russian delegates took up its sponsorship, and the measure passed, amended partially by the U.S. in two ways: "language was removed offering World Health Organization support for nations trying to stop 'inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", and the phrase "'evidence-based" was added to some provisions about advertisements supporting breastfeeding.

The primary scientific issue according to WHO, backed by a fairly broad scientific consensus, is that infants fed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months of their life face improved health outcomes. "It's supposed to move pretty smoothly because all of this work has been done in advance", she said.

'These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so'.

A 2016 study by The Lancet, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, found breastfeeding could prevent 80,000 child deaths a year globally.




Unfortunately, it seems that the U.S. had formula manufacturers' interests in mind during the Geneva talks.

Lucy Sullivan, the executive director of 1,000 Days, which promotes nutrition for children and women, told NPR that she does not agree the text would have reduced access to formula. And it passed. After the uproar in health agencies around the world, the USA was even forced to vote for the resolution.

US officials allegedly threatened to withhold military aid and to impose trade sanctions on that Latin American country if it did not drop the resolution.

In 2007, almost 74 percent of USA women said they had ever breastfed, according to results from the CDC's National Immunization Survey.

The US pressured Ecuador to drop a pro-breastfeeding resolution by threatening to drop aid, the NYT reports.

The $70-billion baby formula industry is dominated by a handful of American and European companies and has seen sales decrease in recent years, as more women embrace breastfeeding, according to the article.

But in the USA, disparities in race, income and geography underscore the work that's left to do to support US mothers who want to give their infants breastmilk. Of course, it is in line with the general attitude of the U.S., which has earlier opposed taxes on sugared drinks and attacked changes in licensing law proposed to deliver life-saving medicines in poor countries.