Study: Infant formula ads reduce breast-feeding

November 3, 2011 By TERESA CEROJANO , Associated Press

The World Health Organization said a study has found that Filipino mothers who have been influenced by advertisements or their doctors to use infant formula are two to four times more likely to feed their babies with those products.

The study appears to support the Philippines' decision to limit advertising for , which can discourage mothers from breast-feeding that provides health benefits for newborns.

Published by the Journal in September and released this week, the study said those mothers were 6.4 times more likely to stop breast-feeding babies within one year of age - a step that raises risks of illness and death for the infant.

significantly reduces , according to international , who recommend that mothers exclusively breast-feed for the first six months and continue breast-feeding, supplemented by solid foods, until their babies are 2 years old.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, sponsored by the and UNICEF, is not legally binding. It is up to individual countries to implement the code by enacting their own laws.

The Philippine study wanted to examine if marketing for breast milk substitutes was to blame for a drop in breast-feeding in the Southeast Asian country, one of several where multinational companies fought a legal battle for the right to aggressively sell baby formulas.

When the Philippine government tried to tighten its advertising laws for , the companies took it to court.

The in October 2007 upheld the Department of Health's mandate to regulate advertising of breast milk substitutes. It prohibited all health and nutrition claims but failed to support a full advertising ban, citing .

WHO data show exclusive breast-feeding rates for Filipino babies up to four months old dropped from 47.3 percent in 1998 to 40.1 percent in 2008.

Four of the six authors of the study are from the WHO, led by the organization's medical officer Howard Sobel. They conducted a household survey between April and December 2006 and focus groups in April-May 2007.

According to their findings, 59.1 percent of the mothers recalled an infant formula advertisement message and one-sixth reported a doctor recommended using formula. Those who recalled an ad message were twice as likely to feed their babies infant formula, while whose advised by a doctor where four times as likely to do so.

"Despite poverty and extra strain on household income associated with formula use, 41.1 percent of the infants and young children were fed formula," the authors said.

The WHO says addition of formula leads to decreased stimulation from suckling and its reflex for breast milk production. Not breast-feeding also was associated with a 5.8 times increased risk of all-cause deaths in the first two months of life, with risks elevated up to the second year, it says.

The authors said that despite the WHO's adoption in 1981 of the International Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes to curtail unethical marketing promotions, few countries have fully implemented the code's ban on advertising or other forms of promotion.

Alex V. Castro III, executive director of the Infant Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines that groups infant formula makers, said the association fully supports breast-feeding.

He said their members have been diligently complying with the Philippines' adaptation of the WHO's milk code, including prohibitions in advertising. He said no advertisement has been allowed without approval of an interagency headed by the Department of Health.

Explore further: Manual breast milk expression better than breast pump for poor feeders

shares

Related Stories

Manual breast milk expression better than breast pump for poor feeders

July 19, 2011
Expressing breast milk by hand in the first days after birth is better for boosting breastfeeding rates among poorly feeding newborns than the use of a breast pump, indicates a small study published online in the Archives ...

Researcher urges study of effects of breast pumps

July 7, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- The widespread use of electric breast pumps by American women is fueling a "quiet revolution" in how infants receive their mothers' milk, argues Cornell nutritionist Kathleen Rasmussen in a commentary ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

Serious health risks associated with energy drinks

November 15, 2017
A new review of current scientific knowledge on energy drinks finds their advertised short-term benefits can be outweighed by serious health risks—which include risk-seeking behavior, mental health problems, increased blood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.