Formula Samples Decline

phpmQS68dPMThere’s good news in the breastfeeding advocacy world. The distribution of formula samples is on the decline and limiting promotional materials from formula companies is fast becoming a best practice in US hospitals.

According to a new report by Public Citizen, “Top Hospitals’ Formula for Success: No Marketing of Infant Formula”—co-released by the Ban the Bags campaign—the vast majority of the nation’s most reputable hospitals are acting ethically and thwarting pressure from formula companies to aggressively market their harmful products.

82% (14 out of 17) of US News’ Honor Roll of overall best hospitals, reported having a policy or practice against distributing formula company-sponsored discharge bags or other promotional materials

67% of top hospitals in gynecology (30 out of 45) reported not distributing formula company sponsored discharge bags, formula samples or other formula company promotional materials to mothers in their maternity units.

FORMULA SAMPLES UNDERMINE BREASTFEEDING

Formula “discharge bags,” or formula sampling to new mothers in hospitals, have been used effectively for over 40 years; they imply an endorsement by the hospital. According to numerous studies, those who receive these “bags” breastfeed for shorter durations, are less likely to breastfeed exclusively, and use the most expensive brands —the brands that they have sampled—when they do use formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women breastfeed for at least one year—exclusively for the first six months.

FORMULA SAMPLES ON THE DECLINE

Over the past decade, hospitals have been steadily trending toward ending formula promotion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey:

27.4% of hospitals had discontinued the formula discharge bags in 2007.

45.5% of hospitals had ended the practice by 2011.

The number of Baby Friendly designated hospitals, which must prohibit formula marketing to receive that designation, is increasing. Further, all hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have voluntarily banned discharge bags, while others, including Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma and New York, are progressively moving in that direction.

SIGN THE PETITION

More than 16,500 people have signed Public Citizen’s petition calling on the three major formula companies —Abbott, Mead Johnson and Nestle—to stop marketing in healthcare facilities. Sign the petition and forward it to friends before it is delivered to the companies next month.

Visit Public Citizen’s campaign to end formula marketing and see the Ban the Bags Tool Kit for ideas about what you can do to make change in your community.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Peggy HeadshotPeggy O’Mara is the CEO of peggyomara.com. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.

Share this post.

PinIt
Peggy O'Mara

About Peggy O'Mara

Editor and Publisher of peggyomara.com. Longtime natural living advocate, award winning writer, and independent thinker.