February 6th, 2014
Letter: Samples discourage breast-feeding
By Dr. Betsy LeRoy, President, Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition
As the Advocate noted in its article, “Two local hospitals join effort to promote breast-feeding,” (Dec. 9), hospitals in the state and nationwide are adopting breast-feeding support policies to improve mother and baby health. But too many Louisiana hospitals and doctors’ offices are still co-opted by infant formula companies to promote their products, undermining breast-feeding goals.
These lagging hospitals still hand out infant formula samples and other formula promotional materials to moms when they leave the hospital, regardless of whether they intend to breast-feed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically recommends that Louisiana hospitals stop promoting formula. There is abundant evidence that these free samples contribute to premature breast-feeding discontinuation. Health care experts agree that women should breast-feed exclusively for six months, so in-hospital formula promotion imposes costs on families in doctor’s visits for sicker babies and expensive brand-name formulas.