October 16th, 2012
Hospitals Ditch Formula Samples to Promote Breast-Feeding
By PAM BELLUCK
The New York Times
For years, virtually every new mother has been sent home from the hospital with a gift bag full of free product samples, including infant formula.
Now health authorities and breast-feeding advocates are leading a nationwide effort to ban formula samples, which often come in stylish bags with formula company logos. Health experts say they can sway women away from breast-feeding.
As of 2011, nearly half of about 2,600 hospitals in a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had stopped giving formula samples to breast-feeding mothers, up from a quarter in 2007. The survey did not ask about distributing samples to non-nursing mothers.
Recently, 24 hospitals in Oklahoma agreed to a ban, and Massachusetts became the second state, after Rhode Island, in which all hospitals halted free samples. In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg started the “Latch On NYC” campaign, urging hospitals to stop giveaways and monitor formula like other medical supplies, stored in locked cabinets and accounted for when mothers have medical needs or request it; 28 of 40 hospitals have agreed.