Thailand Bans Formula Ads to Increase Breastfeeding

Thailand has some of the lowest breastfeeding statistics in the world. To increase breastfeeding, all formula advertisements will be banned.Thailand has some of the lowest breastfeeding statistics in the world. To increase breastfeeding, all formula advertisements will be banned.

Breastfeeding statistics worldwide are lower than what experts want to see. Thailand’s government wants to increase their breastfeeding rates, which is at an all-time low. Thailand’s exclusive breastfeeding rates were only 12.3 percent in 2016!

Their first step is to remove all of the advertisements for infant milk formula. The ban begins next month. It doesn’t just cover direct advertisements. The ban covers indirect advertisements as well. Thailand wants to do more than just stop advertisements. The United Nations is encouraging them to include fully-paid maternity leave, flexible work hours and access to lactation rooms in the workplace.

The Lowest Breastfeeding Rates

There are several reasons why Thailand has such low breastfeeding rates. One of the reasons is that Thailand formula companies aggressively market towards mothers. The average maternity leave is only three months, which doesn’t give mothers enough time to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship.

Related: Here’s What Women Around the World REALLY Think of U.S. Maternity Leave

Experts want to make sure that this ban protects a mother’s right to pick and choose her feeding method. UNICEF supports the movement and also encourages the ban of all promotion of breastmilk substitutes. UNICEF wants to stop hospitals from giving free samples unless medically necessary.

It is important to understand the recommendations for breastfeeding. The World Health Organization encourages mothers to breastfeed exclusively, which means no introduction of solid foods during the first six months of life. After six months, parents are free to introduce solid foods as their baby is ready. The World Health Organization also wants mothers to breastfeed until their kids reach a minimum of two years of age.

Related: Researchers Aim to Increase Breastfeeding Rates In Young Mothers

Will Banning Advertisements Work?

Many people wonder if a ban such as this will make a difference in breastfeeding rates. A study of over 9,000 women showed that they support advertisements protected by law because they are facing harsh pressure. The pressure is coming from the companies and also other mothers who formula fed as well. It is becoming a cycle that needs to change somewhere.

Ultimately, the WHO and UNICEF hopes that other countries will follow Thailand’s lead and introduce bans on formula advertisements. There isn’t a single country that offers enough support and encouragement to all mothers. All countries have room for improvement, and this step works toward higher breastfeeding rates.

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