United States threatens nations over world breastfeeding resolution, shocking health officials

12 July, 2018, 13:17 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Ric Francis via ZUMA

Why are we talking about this?

The Times says baby food industry lobbyists attended the meetings but health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they influenced the Americans' threats.

Details of the standoff were revealed in a New York Times report that said the USA forced Ecuador, the resolution's sponsor, to drop the proposal. In defense of formula and its makers, the U.S. also reportedly threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions in retaliation for advancing the resolution.

When the Trump administration failed to convince member states to water down the language about breastfeeding and formulas, it resorted to threats, according to The New York Times.

"So it was a shock to the hundreds of World Health Organization delegates to gathered this spring in Geneva when the US delegation attempted to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding", and another reference to restrict the promotion of feed products that many experts believe are bad for young children". "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty", Trump said. "Neither is the availability of infant formula", said Sullivan. In those extreme cases, access to formula should be provided. This year's theme is "Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life" and is focused on breastfeeding as the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers. It can also help maternal health.

The move was described as "stunning and shameful" by the online group Moms Rising, noted The Guardian, while Lucy Sullivan - from the group 1,000 Days, which promotes nutrition for babies and infants - said on Twitter the issue could be described as "public health versus private profit".


Where does the USA stand?

"It harkens back to what we saw transpire with his tax bill-all signs of this administration show that they are protecting $1.5 trillion windfalls for corporations but then turn around and can't support programs beneficial for women and their families", she said. A decade later, that number rose to 81 percent of American women.

Baby formula companies have for decades sold more product in developing countries than developed ones, the Times reported, suggesting the USA policy was in line with companies' interests. Breast milk also provides immunity to diseases through antibodies passed from mother to child. Three states - Vermont, Washington and Tennessee - slipped slightly.

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized", Oakley added in the statement.

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. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies until they are six months old, and continuing partial breastfeeding for the first year. "Breast is best-that's why I nursed my own sons, and I encourage other moms to continue this natural practice, which has been essential to human health since the dawn of time", Anderson wrote.

Some places in the US have spearheaded their own efforts to improve breastfeeding rates.

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