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Trump Admin Favored Corporations In Opposing Breastfeeding Resolution

12 July 2018

US officials threatened Ecuador with punitive trade measures after the country introduced an worldwide resolution that encouraged breastfeeding during a global health conference, according to The New York Times.

According to the New York Times, the U.S.'s decision to side against breastfeeding shocked World Health officials and set off a contentious debate, which more than a dozen people from several countries recounted for the report. 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. The American delegation was fighting to include the interests of formula manufacturers, even going so far as to threaten normal trade with countries like Ecuador.

The Food and Drug Administration, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and other leading health professional organizations recognize that infant formula is the safest, most nutritious, and only recommended feeding option for babies who do not receive breast milk.

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A 2016 study by The Lancet, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, found breastfeeding could prevent 80,000 child deaths a year globally.

The administration told Ecuador that if it did not pull its resolution, it would respond by cutting military aid and adopting harsh, retaliatory trade measures. Ecuador quickly dropped its support for the resolution. Women's health advocates, she said, have long promoted breastfeeding-and also supported women to choose the "option to do the best for them and their babies".

The recommendations are based on an established body of evidence showing breastmilk is nutritionally, economically and ecologically superior to formula or other breastmilk substitutes.

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Though high quality, safely prepared substitutes can provide adequate nutrition for infants, emphasis on breastfeeding stretches back through decades of concern from health experts and officials that milk-substitute makers were causing harm with their marketing strategies.

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies", she said. Their sales have increased, however, in developing countries.

But it's not the first time the Trump administration has gone head-to-head with WHO. The U.S. also unsuccessful lobbied to stop a World Health Organization initiative to give life-saving medicine to poor countries, siding with the pharmaceutical industry's intellectual property concerns. "I'm really pleased that Russian Federation did take it forward on a very good basis to actually make sure that breastfeeding would be protected", she said, but noted that the U.S. then put their own alternative resolution forward "with nothing in it". At the same Assembly, U.S. Representatives "succeeded in removing statements supporting soda taxes from a document that advises countries grappling with soaring rates of obesity".

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Trump Admin Favored Corporations In Opposing Breastfeeding Resolution