Health

Is the Trump Administration at War with Breastfeeding?

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Ric Francis via ZUMA

Calling the story "fake news", he tweeted, "The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula".

Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said it's "patently false" to portray the USA position as "anti-breastfeeding".

According to the article, experts contend that breast milk is especially important for babies in less economically developed countries, where unsafe water supplies can make powdered baby formula risky.

In Geneva, delegates from Ecuador initially sponsored a resolution aiming to educate governments and new mothers about the health impacts of breastfeeding versus formula feeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least six months, but also noted that those younger than that "get everything they need from breast milk or formula".

"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", the spokesperson said.

But the Russian delegation eventually stepped in and introduced the measure without any threats from the American officials, the Times reports.

And breastfeeding 'saves lives, protects babies and mothers against deadly diseases, and leads to better IQ and educational outcomes, ' according to a May report from UNICEF.

President Trump responded by pointing out that his Administration is not anti-breastfeeding but in favor of giving women more choice-an exquisitely Trumpian way of co-opting the left's script. Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, added in a statement that women who can't breastfeed should not be "stigmatized", but rather "equally supplied with information". And while the United States lags behind many developed nations, most USA states have significantly improved breastfeeding rates over the past decade. But then the delegation from the United States threw a wrench into things.

The Times noted the USA position aligned with infant formula manufacturers. However, the USA weighed in, siding with the infant formula manufacturers, so much so, they threatened Ecuador with a trade war over opposition, according to a New York Times report. Advocates argue that companies, such as Nestlé, have a long history of making misleading nutritional claims about milk substitutes and donating the substitutes to hospitals in developing countries.

In 2007, almost 74 percent of USA women said they had ever breastfed, according to results from the CDC's National Immunization Survey. "002.pdf" target="_blank">revisit the issue of limiting the marketing of non-breastmilk options for mothers, reopening some of the contentious debates from 2016.

Of course, dominating a multi-billion dollar industry generates large profits-and plenty of money to invest in lobbying.

The main concern isn't whether breastfeeding should be supplemented with formula, but what happens when formula becomes a substitute for breast milk entirely. Of course, it is in line with the general attitude of the United States, which has earlier opposed taxes on sugared drinks and attacked changes in licensing law proposed to deliver life-saving medicines in poor countries.

At the same World Health Assembly meeting, according to the Times, U.S. officials also removed suggestions of introducing a soda tax from a document advising countries on fighting high rates of obesity.

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