Sunday, August 10, 2014

National Breastfeeding Month

August is National Breastfeeding Month, so the breastfeeding posts continue.  Lone Star Ma has a theme each week for National Breastfeeding Month.  Last week's was World Breastfeeding Week and the MDGs.  This week, my theme is the World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981.  The WHO Code, as it is often referred to, exists to protect and promote breastfeeding by providing good information on appropriate infant feeding and through the regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. 

The code states that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes to the general public and that neither health facilities nor health professionals should promote breastmilk substitutes.  It states that free samples should not be provided to pregnant women, new mothers or families. Research has shown that the advertising and promotion of formula and the provision of free samples undermines breastfeeding at the point when many are struggling to establish their milk supplies.

Since 1981, 84 countries have enacted legislation implementing all or many of the provisions of the WHO Code.  The United States has done nothing. 

For those of you who have delivered babies in hospitals, were you given free samples of formula by the hospital or by your doctor or did free samples arrive by mail because your health care providers sold your information to formula company mailing lists? 

What can we do to promote more Baby-Friendly practices in our hospitals and from our health care providers?

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