> Pediatricians encourage free formula for new moms
The manufacturers of formula make deals with hospitals to have hospital staff members (usually nurses) give new mothers gift bags which contain free formula and other formula related baby items. That is a very effective marketing strategy by the formula companies because it gives the impression that health care professionals consider formula feeding to be as beneficial as breastfeeding. The only thing missing from this marketing strategy was the actual endorsement of health care professionals. That changed late last year.
In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed Enfamil formula in hospital formula gift bags for new mothers. In spite of the fact that the AAP has repeatedly condemned the practice of providing free formula to new mothers, they have teamed up with a formula company and are now participating in that practice. In 2012 the AAP issued a policy statement titled “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk” which you can read at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full
After the AAP and Mead Johnson (the manufacturers of Enfamil) formed their alliance in 2013, the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association sent a letter to Dr. Thomas McInerny, the President of the AAP, criticizing the AAP’s new association with Mead Johnson. You can read that letter at:
The Breastfeeding USA organization also sent a letter to the AAP criticizing the AAP’s endorsement of formula gift bags. Their letter can be found at:
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine also sent a letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics asking them to severe their ties with Mead Johnson. The link to that letter is:
While it’s not uncommon for an individual member of an organization to do something that violates the policies of the organization, it IS quite unusual when the organization itself does something that is contrary to their own written policies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization that places a great deal of emphasis on professional standards and ethics. It is for that reason that an endorsement by the AAP is highly prized and difficult to get. The AAP has not responded to the letters sent to them by the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association, Breastfeeding USA, or the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Nor have they issued a statement explaining or justifying their new affiliation with Mead Johnson.
I don’t want to speculate as to why the American Academy of Pediatrics would provide an endorsement to any formula company. Instead, I would rather that everyone reading this thread go to the AAP’s website and submit your own question to the AAP. The link to their website is:
There is a “contact us” tab on the AAP’s webpage. Please ask the AAP why they have endorsed the practice of providing formula gift bags to new mothers upon discharge from the hospital. Please post the answer you get from the AAP here in this thread. Thank you!
Hello! I've moved this thread to Lactivism because it is a better fit for this forum.
Where I stay (Scotland), formula is free for people on benefits. So are fresh fruit and vegetables for breastfeeding mums.
Has anyone received an explanation from the American Academy of Pediatrics about why they have endorsed the practice of providing formula gift bags to new mothers in hospitals?
Any professional organization with the resources and prestige of that enjoyed by the AAP will be very cautious and very deliberate when forming a partnership with another organization or business. At the 2012 Annual AAP Leadership Forum, the “Divesting from Formula Marketing in Pediatric Care” resolution was adopted. That document provides clear evidence that the people at the highest level of the AAP had a complete understanding of the negative impact that formula gift bags have on breastfeeding. You can read that document at: http://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/pdf/DivestingfromFormulaMarketinginPediatricCare.pdf
You may be assured that the AAP fully comprehends how an alliance with any company will be perceived by the public and by their members. That is why there is no other way to view the new alliance between the American Academy of Pediatrics and Mead Johnson, the manufacturer of Enfamil formula, as being anything other than anti-breastfeeding!
Health care professionals rely on information presented by the AAP to be the best possible advice they could receive. When the AAP provided their endorsement for Enfamil formula, they put the credibility of their organization in jeopardy. Unless the AAP takes strong action to reaffirm their commitment to exclusive breastfeeding, none of their future recommendations will be taken seriously. Generally speaking, the American public doesn’t have a very high regard for hypocrites.
Breastfeeding is almost universally considered to be the most beneficial method of feeding infants. Breastfeeding cannot compete with the amount of revenue generated from the sale of formula. Money buys influence… in government… in hospitals… and apparently from the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, government regulations are written in favor of the formula companies, politicians cut funding for successful federal programs that encourage and promote breastfeeding, hospital administrators accept financial incentives from formula companies so that hospital employees will act as marketing agents on behalf of the formula companies, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which at one time had a very prestigious reputation, now has a new anti-breastfeeding agenda. Yes, money can buy influence, but money can also corrupt!
The following is a quote from the “Sample Hospital Breastfeeding Policy for Newborns” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2009: “The hospital will not provide formula marketing materials to mothers and will discourage promotional paraphernalia and marketing efforts in all areas accessible to patients.”
At the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics leadership forum, a resolution was brought to the leadership by the AAP’s Section on Breastfeeding which has chapters in most states. The members of those chapters are pediatricians who strongly support, and advocate for, breastfeeding. The title of the resolution was “Divesting from Formula Marketing in Pediatric Care.” That resolution was ultimately adopted by the AAP leadership. A portion of the background information submitted with that proposed resolution is as follows:
“The AAP supports exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months followed by continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complimentary foods. Marketing of infant formula has direct negative effects on the continuation and exclusivity of breastfeeding. The primary goal of infant formula manufacturers is to sell their product and maximize company and shareholder profits. One major way they achieve this goal is through strategic marketing via the health system. The distribution of formula company products by a health care provider – hospital, nurse, or doctor, is nothing more than advertising. It is not generosity on the part of manufacturers. There is no “gift” in a “gift bag” except that from the healthcare system applying a seal of approval to the formula manufacturer without compensation. Research reveals that when a health care provider distributes a formula manufacturer’s goods, the recipient interprets that action to indicate that formula feeding is superior to breastfeeding and that the brand distributed is superior to the alternatives.”
That explanation of the effects of formula marketing in hospitals is very clear. The leadership of the AAP at the 2012 leadership forum could not have misinterpreted that language.
When the leaders of the American Academy of Pediatrics formed a partnership with the manufacturer of Enfamil formula in 2013, and approved the use of the AAP logo to be put on products which were included in “gift bags” given to new mothers in hospitals, they ignored their own policy regarding the distribution of formula gift bags in hospitals. The AAP leaders have shown a blatant disregard for the efforts of all those who have worked so hard to encourage women to breastfeed. Those breastfeeding advocates have been humiliated, embarrassed, and betrayed by the leaders of the AAP. The leaders of the AAP owe a public apology to all breastfeeding advocates for misusing their authority to sanction the use of the AAP logo for a purpose that contradicted the policies of the organization.