Health leaders stunned as US delegates oppose breastfeeding resolution

Breastfeeding basics for mom and baby

President Donald Trump weighed in Monday to defend women's "access" to formula milk, after an article accused the United States of seeking to torpedo a World Health Organization resolution on breastfeeding.

"With respect to news published in the United States on this date, the Public Ministry reiterates that Ecuador maintains its public policy of promoting and protecting breastfeeding without variation as the exclusive food for newborns up to 6 months", a statement by the Ecuadorean health ministry said Monday reacting to the report and denying backing off from the resolution under USA pressure. The recommendation called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding", and also recommended limiting the promotion of "food products" - aka baby formula - to families with young children.

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.

Somehow things escalated from there into the US threatening Ecuador--the nation that was introducing the resolution--with "punishing trade measures".

The Food and Drug Administration, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and other leading health professional organizations recognize that infant formula is the safest, most nutritious, and only recommended feeding option for babies who do not receive breast milk. Critics of the breast milk substitute industry contend that those companies use aggressive and potentially illegal marketing tactics that encourage mothers to abandon breastfeeding in favor of commercial products.

"Reducing the debate about the World Health Assembly resolution to "breastfeeding vs. formula feeding" is misleading as both the draft and final Resolutions were supportive of breastfeeding", said Mardi Mountford, President of The Infant Nutrition Council of America. Milk from a mother to a child is also nutritionally specific.


That means the Trump administration was using the economic and diplomatic weight of USA imperialism to promote policies that kill babies. In war zones and during humanitarian crises, infant formula makes sense, said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in this piece.

The New York Times alleges the USA attempted to browbeat others countries into dropping the resolution. Even on something as easily defendable as the health of infants.

He added that although the group didn't find negative effects on infant mortality on populations with clean water, that "doesn't mean there's no difference between breast milk and formula". 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".

The baby formula industry, which is dominated by USA and European companies, has seen stagnant sales in wealthy countries in recent years as breastfeeding becomes more common.

The U.S. stance on the health issue was enough to draw heated reaction from a number of progressive-leaning websites.

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