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‘Underhand’ formula milk ads stop millions from breastfeeding, experts say

Exploitative and “underhand” marketing of formula milk is preventing millions of women from breastfeeding, according to a series of reports published in the Lancet.

The reports, by 25 experts from 12 countries, including paediatricians, public health specialists, scientists, economists and midwives, finds that the commercial milk formula companies “exploit parents’ emotions and manipulate scientific information to generate sales at the expense of the health and rights of families, women and children”.

Breastfeeding promotes brain development, protects infants against malnutrition, infectious diseases and death, while also reducing risks of obesity and chronic diseases in later life. It also helps protect mothers against breast and ovarian cancers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months and giving breast milk alongside solid food until the age of two or beyond.

Over three reports, the series reveals how, more than 40 years since the World Health Assembly developed a voluntary international code prohibiting the marketing of infant formula, widespread violation of the code persists, with promotion of infant formula milk continuing in about 100 countries in every region of the world since the code was adopted.

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Source: The Guardian, 7 February 2023


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