US threatens nations over world breastfeeding resolution, shocking health officials

Ric Francis via ZUMA

'The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out.

"A resolution to encourage breastfeeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly", The Times piece noted. Other countries appeared hesitant to back the resolution after seeing the USA threaten Ecuador.

There may be nobody as vulnerable to manipulation as a mother anxious about her child's health. "PETA's billboard pays tribute to breastfeeding and urges parents to stay away from formulas made with the milk of mother cows pining for their babies, who were denied the nourishment meant for them". At first, the USA delegates attempted to simply dilute the pro-breastmilk message, voiding language that called for governments to "protect, promote, and support breastfeeding" and limit promotion of competing baby food products that experts warn can be harmful. Organizations such as Save the Children say that some major companies that produce these products regularly flout this global code. The Times also reported that the United States threatened Ecuador, which was planning to introduce the measure, with trade sanctions and the removal of military aid.

Russian Federation ultimately sponsored the resolution and the American delegation did not issue any threats to the country. They are growing desperate, because in wealthier countries, especially in the United States, more mothers, for various reasons, are choosing to breastfeed and buying less formula.

Such chaos is unusual at this type of meeting, according to Zehner.

"An employee must have the same freedom to address such lactation-related needs that she and her co-workers would have to address other similarly limiting medical conditions", says the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

In the US, 83% of babies start out being breastfed, but only 25% are exclusively breastfed six months later, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The resolution seemed more than reasonable; apparently not to the USA delegates. The embassy did not respond to NPR's request for comment. 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.

During the discussions, USA delegates even threatened to cut aid to WHO. "The U.S. didn't need to have a bigger say".

"These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so", a spokesperson said in an email. Millions of infants have safely consumed formula for decades.

"A major risk of formula feeding in low-income settings is that the formula is available without the other safety precautions", Palmquist said. "What is in question here is the way that these products are promoted and pushed and marketed by these companies and how these companies are interfering in public health policy".

The Department of Health and Human Services, which tried to change the wording of the resolution, denies that it was involved in making threats against Ecuador.

Of course, if ratified, the industry would shrink like an unmilked breast (fun fact: the free formula sample bag given in many hospitals includes an ice-pack to help stop milk flow in new mothers).

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