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Trumps weighs in on breastfeeding debate, defends formula

12 July 2018

At the United Nations World Health Assembly this spring officials from the United States held up a resolution created to promote breastfeeding by attempting to remove specific language according to the New York Times.

US President Donald Trump has defended US efforts to reportedly undermine a World Health Organisation measure in support of breastfeeding. The U.S. officials, according to the Times, first tried to remove language from the resolution that called on nations to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding".

In addition to the trade threats, an Ecuadorean government official told the Times the USA threatened to withdrawal military support from northern Ecuador, where violence from boarding Colombia causes ongoing issues. But Russia rescued the resolution by stepping in and introducing it.

As part of global nutrition targets, countries who are part of the World Health Organization have vowed to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life to at least 50 percent of mothers by 2025.

The measure was expected to be introduced by Ecuador. "If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid".

Canadian breastfeeding advocates say they're stunned by an especially aggressive US attempt to water down breastfeeding protections at a spring United Nations meeting.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said to CNN, "The issues being debated were not about whether one supports breastfeeding". "We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons". The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

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While not all women are able to or choose to breastfeed, decades of research have shown that breastfeeding carries health benefits for babies and mothers, as well as saving money for families.

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

But the popularity of breastfeeding can cut into sales of infant formula manufacturers, and companies who produce formula have a long history of interfering in global affairs to promote formula over breastfeeding at the expense of infant health.

Sterken says she was encouraged by how strongly many countries resisted the US bid, and she praised Canada for doing its part to champion breastfeeding initiatives.

The $70-billion baby formula industry is dominated by a handful of American and European companies and has seen sales decrease in recent years, as more women embrace breastfeeding, according to the article.

But in the US, disparities in race, income and geography underscore the work that's left to do to support USA mothers who want to give their infants breastmilk. "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 United States then put their own alternative resolution forward "with nothing in it".

In 1981-the height of a massive controversy over Nestlé's aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in poor countries-the "availability of formula" resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in areas with bad water, they found.

Trumps weighs in on breastfeeding debate, defends formula