Are Infant Formula Marketers Undermining Breastfeeding?

Research has shown that breastfeeding is good for both the baby and the mother, yet more children are being fed formula than ever. Switching to breast milk would save an estimated 823,000 infant and 98,000 maternal lives annually, according to “Unveiling the predatory tactics of the formula milk industry,” published in The Lancet and Health Policy and Planning.

Authors of the report say mothers are subjected to marketing strategies that undermine breastfeeding.

The report discusses "the very misleading and exploitative marketing from infant formula companies that use messaging about the benefits of their products without almost any scientific basis whatsoever, essentially sending a message that infant formulas are similar to, if not even better than, breastfeeding for the health and well-being of the babies,” notes Rafael Perez-Escamilla, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health and a co-author of the report, in a statement to CNN.



The infant formula industry is "under-regulated," according to the Lancet report. The report also highlights how infant formula marketers portray “typical infant behaviors such as crying, fussiness, and poor night-time sleep” as “pathological and framed as reasons to introduce formula when in fact these behaviors are common and developmentally appropriate.”

Since marketers are likely to take advantage of a lack of oversight, we encourage the U.S. government to step in and crack down on formula manufacturers making misleading claims about their products. Letting marketers continue to do so damages marketers and their perceived image to the public.

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