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NYC breastfeeding: a new-old plan to wean the world off formula

Remember the Nestlé formula boycott? The long-term global effort to encourage breastfeeding as a healthier choice for newborns than formula – once focused on developing nations – is now a trend among US hospitals. But a new program to decrease the use of formula in hospitals, backed by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is being criticized as meddling in the decisions of mothers.

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Bloomberg says mothers should choose what is right for them. The program guarantees they will be able to make that decision free from corporate influence. But many mommy bloggers and pundits have criticized the program as a new round of over-reach into personal choice by Bloomberg public health policy. The city is still reeling from his proposal this spring to ban supersize sodas in the city. 
 
Starting in September, more than half of New York’s maternity hospitals (27 of 40) will ask mothers of newborns to listen to talks about why breast milk is more healthy than formula samples that hospitals traditionally have offered free of charge.
 
“Restricting access to samples and information from formula manufacturers is not the answer to increasing breastfeeding rates,” said Mardi Mountford, the executive vice president for the International Formula Council (IFC), in a written statement. The IFC is an association of manufacturers including Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestlé Infant Nutrition Perrigo Nutritionals, and Pfizer Nutrition.
 
“A way to help mothers is to be supportive of the feeding choice they make for their infants regardless if they choose breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination of both,” said Ms. Mountford. “For infants who are not breast fed, infant formula is the only safe, nutritious and recommended feeding option. Clinical studies and many years of consumer use have shown infant formula to be a safe alternative which supports normal growth and development in infants.”

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