U.S. threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution

"The US strongly supports breastfeeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula".

Canadian breastfeeding advocates say they're stunned by an especially aggressive USA attempt to water down breastfeeding protections at a spring United Nations meeting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recognizes breast milk "as the best source of nutrition for most infants". But in 2015, Texas passed a law mandating that public employers (like cities, counties and school districts) give breastfeeding moms breaks and provide a private space for them to pump during the workday other than a "multiple user bathroom".

The primary scientific issue according to WHO, backed by a fairly broad scientific consensus, is that infants fed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months of their life face improved health outcomes.

Dr. Barbara L. Philipp, medical director of the Boston Medical Center's MotherBaby Unit, said that the USA opposition to the resolution placed corporations' profits over the health of mothers and babies.

The Russian delegation eventually stepped in to introduce the measure, with no push-back from the U.S. A 2016 study found that "the deaths of 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers each year could be averted through universal breastfeeding, along with economic savings of $300 billion [USD]". "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty".

In the course of one week in July, baby formula monopolies exposed that the drive for capitalist profits kills infants, and the Trump gang showed how an imperialist regime serves these monopolies - or tries to - whatever ruthless means it takes. He said his report is based on interviews with more than a dozen participants in the talks, and "many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States".

The State Department official said the United States works "to identify common cause when possible and does not shy away from expressing its disagreement when necessary".

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"I don't think people thought about it very much", she said, "that... marketing could lead people to the extent... that you would actually have babies dying".

The Times said Ecuador was slated to introduce the World Health Assembly breastfeeding resolution, but after the US threatened to "unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid", it "quickly acquiesced". The main problem is that in countries where safe drinking water is hard to obtain, mixing dry formula with local water can provoke diarrhea or other illnesses that kill babies.

In 2007, almost 74 percent of US women said they had ever breastfed, according to results from the CDC's National Immunization Survey. Here, they reportedly hand out "infant nutrition" pamphlets to mothers, which appear to be medical advice but in fact recommend specific formula brands and sometimes have money-off coupons.

The country-by-country differences in breastfeeding rates could be due to cultural norms, having the ability to breastfeed while in the workplace or having access to safe and affordable alternatives to breast milk, among other factors.

Aware of this growing aggressiveness, World Health Organization tried to get agreement for a standard resolution to promote breastfeeding in member countries and to continue to limit false advertising of the formula monopolies.

Patti Randall - who, as policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, has attended meetings of the assembly - said the group was "astonished", "appalled" and "saddened" by the behavior of the US delegates.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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