Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Trump Slams NYT For Critical Article On US Stance on Breastfeeding

Trump Slams NYT For Critical Article On US Stance on Breastfeeding

Why are we talking about this?

The United States pressured other countries to stop a resolution that promoted breastfeeding at the United Nations, according to the New York Times. But the US reportedly threatened the country with punitive trade measures and a cut to military aid if it did not drop the proposal. Rather, the battle centered on a resolution stating that "mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes", The Times reports. Vox points out that Donald Trump himself has been critical of breastfeeding mothers in the past, calling the act of breastfeeding "disgusting". The current Administration's move in some ways echoes 1981, when the US was the only dissenting vote with 118 countries in favor of adopting rules that would prevent formula companies from giving away their products to new mothers and targeting them with aggressive marketing practices; World Health Organization experts believed these methods were linked to a dramatic increase in mortality, malnutrition and diarrhea in very young infants in developing nations.

Aware of these problems, the World Health Organization has tried to limit the use of formula, especially in poorer countries around the globe. Since the 1980s, governments, non-governmental organizations, and corporations have been limited from marketing formula for infants six months of age and younger. In those extreme cases, access to formula should be provided. It can also help maternal health. "And while health experts instead say 'breast is best, ' as this incident shows, policymakers aren't always willing to put legislation behind that message..." "The U.S. didn't need to have a bigger say".

Moms Rising, a group trying to achieve economic security for mothers in the United States, called the American government's move "stunning and shameful", adding that "We must do everything we can to advocate for public policies that support and empower breastfeeding moms". In a booklet published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, and still available online, government officials listed multiple benefits for employers that support breastfeeding mothers and their partners. A decade later, that number rose to 81 percent of American women.

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"If they don't, a lot of times it's up to the employees to have to go advocate for those particular rights, to make sure they get what they're entitled to", she said.

The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations.

The Times notes a 2016 series in the Lancet in which researchers estimated that universal breastfeeding could spare the lives of 823,000 children each year and save $302 billion in economic losses. Three states - Vermont, Washington and Tennessee - slipped slightly.

"Formula is the same that you give a newborn infant as you're giving a one-year-old, and human milk is a lovely, amazing, diverse, biological substance that changes every minute of the day for the child", said Dr. Mitchell.

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The U.S. delegation doesn't agree with a public health policy of keeping information away from women who are feeding their children.

The federal government has agreed breast milk is the best option.

"And now the U.S. Gov is against breastfeeding in favor of formula companies", a DailyKos story blared.

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