April 9th, 2012
Hospitals pressured to end free baby formula
By Susan Heavey
New parents leaving U.S. hospitals often take home a corporate gift along with their babies: a tote bag filled with infant formula. Consumer advocates want to end the giveaways, which they say undermine breastfeeding.
In a letter to more than 2,600 hospitals, dozens of consumer and health organizations called on the facilities to stop distributing free samples of formula that they say entangles healthcare providers in pharmaceutical and food manufacturers’ marketing and could be seen as an endorsement.
Giving formula to new parents discourages some new mothers from breastfeeding, the groups said on Monday in the letter sent by the advocacy group Public Citizen. They are also petitioning the $4 billion infant formula industry’s leaders - Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co and Nestle SA - to halt the practice.