New parents who leave the hospital get a tote bag filled with infant formula. This has now become a major issue among hospitals and consumer advocates, who want to end the free distribution of infant formula saying that this could undermine breast feeding.
The consumer and health care organization have sent letters to more than 2600 hospitals asking them to stop the free give away practice which they say would collide with the health care providers in pharmaceutical and food manufacturers. They have also petitioned the $4billion infant formula industry’s leaders - Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co and Nestle to stop the practice of free give away of infant formula.
Public Citizen president Robert Weissman wrote a letter to hospital chief executives saying that the noble aim of hospitals in promoting the health of infants and mothers would be obstructed if they continue to follow the practice of free give away of infant formula.
The counter argument for the free giving practice stems from a move to boost US rates of breast feeding. The breast feeding confers wide range of benefits to infants including reducing obesity; immunity power of the infant will be highly boosted. The breast feeding is recommended for at least first 6 months of baby’s life.
But the hospitals as well as the formula makers still upheld the free samples saying that it is unavoidable in meeting women’s needs.
The US health officials want to increase the breast feeding among women’s from 14 percent to 26 percent by the year 2020. According to the WHO, the breast feeding among women are increasing partly because more hospitals are offering breast feeding support.
"We can't forget that some moms even though they plan to breastfeed, they either can't or they decide not to," said International Formula Council Executive Vice President Mardi Mountford. "We believe they want more information, not less."
But the consumer and health support group still insists in stopping the free give away practice, as they say would discourage mothers from breast feeding. They also say, once the free samples are gone, then families may need to spend from $800 to $2,800 a year on the formula.
"Having information and resources available for mothers who choose not to breastfeed is a responsible and supportive approach for the hospital", stated The American Hospital Association.