Providence, Rhode Island — As part of efforts to support breastfeeding mothers, women who give birth in Rhode Island will no longer receive infant formula marketing packs when they head home from the hospital. Rhode Island’s First Lady, Stephanie Chafee, Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Roberts, RI Department of Health Director, Michael Fine, and Marsha Walker from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition’s Ban the Bags campaign joined the Rhode Island Health Department Monday November 28, 2011 in celebrating the state’s becoming the first in the nation to eliminate the distribution of infant formula marketing bags in all of Rhode Island’s birthing hospitals.
Director Fine, the Lt. Governor as well as the First Lady spoke of their commitment to breastfeeding families and their support of the hospitals’ efforts in this giant step forward in removing the commercial barriers to breastfeeding. State health officials noted that studies link giveaways to decreased breastfeeding rates, which is not in keeping with their efforts to promote optimal health for mothers and infants in Rhode Island.
For more information, see coverage in USA Today.
Studies show that formula marketing bags shorten exclusive breastfeeding duration, even when the formula samples are removed from the bags. How does that work? It’s simple – but subtle. Industry-manufactured “breastfeeding support guides” offer advice that undermines mothers and promotes artificial breastmilk substitutes, as Erin explains beautifully in her guest blog, Helping Themselves: Breastfeeding Advice Nestle-Style.
Mead Johnson pulls “Breast milk formula” web page title
June 23, 2009– Mead Johnson hit new lows this past week, calling Lipil ‘The Breast Milk Formula” on its web site. The title to the web page was changed to ‘Enfamil “ ‘Lipil” following a concerted campaign by breastfeeding activists to contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Mead Johnson’s advertising is already under review by the FTC for overstating the health benefits from added fatty acids DHA/ARA. With the recent “breast milk formula” ploy, Mead Johnson sank to new lows, essentially claiming that infant formula is the same thing as human milk.
In another cynical move to market formula in the guise of breastfeeding support, Abbott Labs has partnered with Working Mother magazine to create a “workplace breastfeeding support” kit. Blogging in The Huffington Post, Dr. Melissa Bartick explains why businesses should steer clear of formula propaganda, and instead use the Business Case for Breastfeeding, a federally-funded workplace lactation support program.
The Tool Kit has moved here.
Moving formula marketing out of hospitals requires a culture change. Many doctors and nurses enjoy giving patients a “free gift,” and don’t appreciate the hidden costs associated with marketing strategies.
Staff may not realized that free samples are linked with earlier use of formula among nursing mothers in randomized controlled trials. Professionals who have never purchased formula may not realize that name-brand products cost a third more than store-brand products, raising costs considerably for bottle-feeding families. Educating care providers and hospital adminsitrators about these issues is the first step toward eliminating these marketing practices. To start the conversation, review our talking points.
This tool kit includes materials developed by the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition and Ban the Bags, as well as letters of support from regional and national organizations.
Whether you are a parent, a concerned citizen, a public health advocate or a health care provider, you can change this practice. Browse our materials for ideas and inspiration, or Download Our Complete Tool Kit for background information, supporting data and educational materials to start lobbying for change in your community.
A “Mama is…” cartoon speculates on how the formula samples in the Enfamil “Breastefeeding Kit” could possibly help mothers successfully nurse. See the cartoon.
Writing in “The Kid’s Menu,” Lesley Porcelli describes how she and her baby resisted a barrage of formula handouts and industry-endorsing health care providers to breastfeed successfully. She writes, “The world seems to start pushing formula on mothers at the moment of conception. But what if you just want your baby to drink breast milk?” Read the article.
Marsha Walker exposes formula company tactics in her article, Formula Company Discharge Bags: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing:
Sampling gets the product into the hands of the consumer, provides for its easy use at the first sign of breastfeeding roadblocks, and starts the process of early weaning – the perfect setup for creating a market where none existed before.
Hospitals provide formula sample packs while medical organizations encourage breastfeeding
CHICAGOâ€”A majority of U.S. hospitals on the East coast distribute formula sample packs to new mothers, contrary to recommendations from most major medical organizations concerned about the potential for distributing these packs to reduce breastfeeding rates, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, the practice is changing significantly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released results from a national survey of US maternity centers showing that 70 percent of birth facilities continue to market formula to new mothers, undermining health recommendations. In an editorial note accompanying the study, published in the journal “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” the authors comment:
Facilities should consider discontinuing these practices to provide more positive influences on breastfeeding initiation and duration.
For more information on mPINC, read the press release from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.
A recent article in The New York Times reported on rising US breastfeeding rates. In the article, Bobby Philipp, a pediatrician at Boston University, pointed to formula bags as a key obstacle to breastfeeding success. Noting that most hospitals still market formula to new mothers, she said:
Thatâ€™s a problem because at least five studies have shown that when a doctor or nurse hands the family that bag, even if they take the formula out, that mother will have less success with breast-feeding
Read the article
Mothers who take home a formula company gift bag are more likely to stop exclusively breastfeeding their babies by 10 weeks of age, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health by the Oregon Department of Public Health. Oregon has taken the lead in banning hospital marketing of branded formula, according to a report on the study in The Oregonian.
By Melissa Bartick, MD, MS
Chair, Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition
February, 2007 — In Massachusetts, getting hospitals to stop marketing baby formula became a battle of words fought in the press and in the corridors of the State House. In February 2006, then-Governor Mitt Romney directed our stateâ€™s Public Health Council to rescind the countryâ€™s first state regulation to ban hospital distribution of formula company discharge bags. Romney, his spokesman, and other opponents of the ban argued that women should be â€œfree to chooseâ€ how they feed their babies, and that women should not be â€œforcedâ€ to breastfeed. Continue reading
Formula companies aren’t the only ones who co-opt health care providers to pitch expensive pharmaceutical products — read about how physicians are opting out of expensive meals from drug companies in the Washington Post.
Hold the Hors d’Oeuvres: Program Helps Doctors Stay Current Without Accepting Drugmakers’ Meals
Marsha Walker, a long-time advocate for mothers and babies, sums up why your hospital shouldn’t be part of the formula marketing racket. This one-page summary was instrumental in moving formula marketing out of a Texas hospital. Take it to your adminstrators today! Continue reading
Increasing attention is being directed towards compliance requirements in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Some of these regulations have implications for those who purchase, recommend, receive, and/or distribute infant formula.
Show your support for Ban the Bags with mugs, badges, t-shirts, and even a Ban the Bags Bag. Visit our online store. Proceeds support the Ban the Bags campaign.
Health professionals should prepare talking points for interview situations, contact with the press, or meeting with legislators or public health officials and avoid being drawn into debates that make them appear to be zealots. The following are common industry assertions and claims by opponents followed by useful responses. Continue reading
Moving marketing out of hospitals requires a multipronged approach, ranging from legislation to public awareness to hospital policy change. See how others are tackling this problem across the country. Continue reading
As of May 2006, leaders at 11 of the 52 maternity hospitals in Massachusetts had put mothers and babies ahead of formula company profits. The state’s report card lists births, breastfeeding rates, and bag policies statewide. Continue reading