Despite Trump\'s Breastfeeding Opposition, All 50 U.S. States Back It

Ric Francis via ZUMA

When the USA pushed to weaken language supporting breastfeeding in a WHO resolution at the World Health Assembly recently, Trump's administration prioritized the US dairy industry and the $70 billion baby food industry over babies' health, according to Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, a maternal-fetal medicine physician and president-elect of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The resolution ended up passing, though the US did succeed in getting the language altered slightly.

Despite all that data, the USA has consistently lagged behind most high-income countries on both breastfeeding rates (only about half of American women are still breastfeeding at six months, as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics) and the policies that help increase them, like paid maternity leave.

Critics charge that the U.S. delegation is unduly influenced by lobbyists for formula manufacturers.

Why it matters: "Breastfeeding is one of the most cost-effective interventions for improving maternal and child health", said Georges Benjamin, executive director for the American Public Health Association, in a released statement.

There may be nobody as vulnerable to manipulation as a mother anxious about her child's health.

A State Department official said the USA believed "the resolution as originally drafted called on states to erect hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children".

"...[I] t turns out that global health resolution was just one of a few battlefronts in Trump's fight against policies that support breastfeeding, as the administration increasingly aligns itself with the US infant formula industry". Breast milk is easy to digest, with just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein for a baby's growth and development.

No formula to date is more nutritious than breast milk, but that's not itself the cause of the deaths.

The US delegation worked hard, but largely unsuccessfully, to water down a resolution recognizing the importance of breastfeeding for infants and working against misleading attempts to sell substitutes for a mother's milk, the Times reported, citing more than a dozen participants from various countries, many of whom requested anonymity for fear of US retaliation. Whether a parent decides to breastfeed exclusively, formula feed, or use a combination of both, The Infant Nutrition Council of America believes they should have access to facts and balanced information about infant feeding options and be supported in their decision.

Did the infant-formula industry, which obviously benefits when women don't breastfeed, push the Trump administration to to take its mind-bending stand against encouraging breastfeeding? In war zones and during humanitarian crises, infant formula makes sense, said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in this piece. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced. "Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington's strong-arm tactics", The Times reports.

" The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", an H.H.S. spokesman said in an email.

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