Infant Formula

Visit our infant formula marketing campaign website.

Sign the petition calling on formula makers to stop marketing in healthcare facilities

Breastfeeding has crucial health benefits for both babies and mothers. Children that are breastfed have reduced risk of acute otitis media, non-specific gastroenteritis, severe lower respiratory tract infections, atopic dermatitis, asthma, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, syndrome (SIDS), and necrotizing enterocolitis. Mothers who breastfeed also experience improved health outcomes, including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, ovarian cancer, post-partum depression, and bladder infections. Yet, infant formula makers (primarily large pharmaceutical companies) aggressively market their products to mothers, often using misleading information to suggest that formula feeding is equivalent to breastfeeding.

Healthcare providers should not act as marketers for any products. Yet, many are co-opted by formula companies to market their products: in the United States, the vast majority of birthing hospitals dispense industry-sponsored samples of formula to new mothers after they give birth. This practice sends families the message that hospitals are endorsing formula feeding. Mothers who received formula samples in hospital are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed for shorter durations. It's not just hospitals that market formula on behalf of manufacturers; other healthcare facilities, such as clinics and doctors offices, also participate in formula marketing.

In 1981 the WHO established the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. The Code states that healthcare facilities are not to be used for the marketing of infant formula. Hospitals in the U.S. that continue to distribute formula samples, as well as the formula makers that pursue this type of marketing, are in violation of the WHO Code.

We are fighting to end the practice of formula marketing in healthcare facilities.

More Information

News Releases

Maryland Hospitals Follow WHO Code and Go Bag-Free
Kristen Strader | October 20th, 2015

Infant Formula Manufacturers Criticized for Violating World Health Organization Marketing Standards
Public Citizen | May 21st, 2014

Study Shows Vast Majority of Top-Ranked Hospitals Have Ended Infant Formula Marketing
For Immediate Release: Contact: Margrete Strand Rangnes (202) 588-1000 Angela Bradbery (202) 588 | October 29th, 2013

Commercial Alert to Hospitals: Stop Handing Out Industry-Provided Samples of Infant Formula
April 9th, 2012

Related Articles and Links

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ANA VECIANA-SUAREZ | Miami Herald | May 27th, 2014

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Katrina Pavlik | Breastfeed Chicago | May 21st, 2014

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Kimberly Seals Allers | Mocha Manual | May 21st, 2014

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Rani Molla | Wall Street Journal | April 14th, 2014

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ALEXANDRA HARNEY | Reuters | November 8th, 2013

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St. Louis Today | October 31st, 2013

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JOHN MICHAELSON | Tennessee News Service | August 7th, 2013

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Ming Yeung | China Daily | October 31st, 2012

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Elizabeth Ben-Ishai | New York Times | October 23rd, 2012

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Haley Hernandez | WCBD | October 17th, 2012

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PAM BELLUCK | The New York Times | October 16th, 2012

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Tessa Thorniley | The Telegraph | October 9th, 2012

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Elizabeth Ben-Ishai | YES! Magazine | October 5th, 2012

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Kate Long | The Charleston Gazette | September 24th, 2012

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Katie Kerwin McCrimmon | Health Policy Solutions | September 20th, 2012

Oklahoma Hospitals 'Ban The Bag' To Encourage Breastfeeding
Deanne Stein | News 9 | August 29th, 2012

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Cheryl Wills | NY1 | August 29th, 2012

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RACHEL ROUBEIN | Carroll County Times | August 27th, 2012

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Carly Weeks | The Globe and Mail | August 20th, 2012

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Jennifer LaRue Huget | The Washington Post | August 14th, 2012

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Taddeo Bwambale | New Vision (Uganda) | August 13th, 2012

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Kate Dailey | BBC News | August 8th, 2012

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Jessica Samakow | Huffington Post | July 19th, 2012

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Bonnie Rochman | Time | July 17th, 2012

Report: Massachusetts birth hospitals ditch free infant formula gift bags
Staff | CBS News | July 16th, 2012

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Gail Huff | WJLA | July 13th, 2012

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John Dorschner | Miami Herald | June 25th, 2012

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Public Citizen: Florida Hospitals Shouldn't Hawk Infant Formula
WCTV | April 30th, 2012

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Robert Weissman | Huffington Post | April 16th, 2012

Should hospitals pass out free baby formula to new moms?
Amy Graff | SFGate | April 12th, 2012

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David Katz | Huffington Post | April 10th, 2012

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Meredith Cohn | Baltimore Sun | April 10th, 2012

Public Citizen targets hospitals offering infant formula to new moms
JANET ST. JAMES | WFAA | April 10th, 2012

Group: Hospitals wrong to give baby formula to new moms
South Florida Sun-Sentinel | April 9th, 2012

Should Hospitals Stop Giving Out Free Samples Of Baby Formula To New Moms?
Chris Morran | Consumerist | April 9th, 2012

Hospitals pressured to end free baby formula
Susan Heavey | Reuters | April 9th, 2012

As Governor, Romney Dove Into Breastfeeding Debate
Andrew Kaczynski | BuzzFeed | April 7th, 2012

Canadian infant formula crackdown fails to make baby steps
Sarah Schmidt | Montreal Gazette | March 26th, 2012

South Africa: Draft regulations on baby formula, foods published
South African Government News Service | March 7th, 2012

Protesters briefly disrupt U of A ceremony awarding honorary degree to Nestle exec
Sheila Pratt | Edmonton Journal | March 2nd, 2012

How Companies Learn Your Secrets
CHARLES DUHIGG | The New York Times | February 16th, 2012

Canada: Natrel accused of milking parents' fear with Baboo, a toddler drink
Jennifer Pagliaro | The Toronto Star | February 7th, 2012

Abbott Nutrition Webcast to Target Canadian Health Care Providers
INFACT Canada/IBFAN North America | Informed Parent | January 18th, 2012

In Hong Kong, a call for baby formula ads to stop exaggerating
Vanessa Ko | Smart Planet | December 21st, 2011

Uganda: Baby food supplements face ban, says ministry
Flavia Nalubega | Daily Monitor | December 19th, 2011

Bill to stop giving baby formula sparks debate
JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH | The Jerusalem Post | December 16th, 2011

Free Formula Samples Hamper Breast-Feeding Efforts
Nancy Melville | Medscape | December 5th, 2011

RI eliminates free infant formula giveaways at hospitals in move to boost breastfeeding
Associated Press | Washington Post | November 29th, 2011

China May Ban Infant Formula Ads to Encourage Breastfeeding
Natasha Khan | Bloomberg | November 10th, 2011

Infant-Formula Companies Milk U.S. Food Program
Molly M. Ginty | Women's e news | November 8th, 2011

Study: Infant formula ads reduce breast-feeding
TERESA CEROJANO | Associated Press | November 3rd, 2011

Do hospitals' freebies undermine breast-feeding?
Medical XPress | September 26th, 2011

External Links

Ban the Bags
A national campaign to stop formula company marketing in maternity hospitals. The campaign’s web page includes a list of hospitals in the United States that have banned formula sample bags.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes
The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981 to protect and promote breastfeeding, through the provision of adequate information on appropriate infant feeding and the regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, bottles and teats.