US Stance on Breastfeeding Resolution Questioned

Trump administration threatened Ecuador over its support of breastfeeding resolution

Trump administration threatened Ecuador over its support of breastfeeding resolution

President Donald Trump is blasting The New York Times for what he calls a "fake" story that reported the United States has been accused of "blackmail" after it threatened to cut aid to Ecuador and other poor countries who backed a resolution encouraging breastfeeding.

US delegates pushed for removal of resolution language calling on governments to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding." .

According to a report by The New York Times however, the United States delegation attempted to upend deliberations in an effort to protect the financial interests of baby formula manufacturers. It was only when Russian Federation introduced the resolution that American officials backed off. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months after birth.

"The United States believed the resolution as originally drafted called on states to erect hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", said a State Department official.

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement responding to the account of the resolution that the United States "has a long history of supporting mothers and breastfeeding around the world and is the largest bilateral donor of such foreign assistance programs". It is also beneficial for mothers, leading to less risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.

The Times says the USA delegation opposed the measure, which was widely expected to be adopted.

Ecuador's introduction of the breastfeeding resolution held that "mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes", as The Times reported. For more than 45 years the Council has advocated optimal infant health and the critical role of infant nutrition, supported families in their feeding decisions and educating on appropriate infant feeding options.

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized", Oakley added in the statement.

Sterken says she was encouraged by how strongly many countries resisted the USA bid, and she praised Canada for doing its part to champion breastfeeding initiatives.

For a recent paper, University of California, Berkeley, economist and public-health expert Paul Gertler. and a team of colleagues looked at infant mortality rates in low- and middle-income countries, comparing regions that had access to infant formula to regions that didn't. Of course, it is in line with the general attitude of the USA, which has earlier opposed taxes on sugared drinks and attacked changes in licensing law proposed to deliver life-saving medicines in poor countries.

Although formula feeding is a great option for mothers who can't breastfeed, current medical literature strongly supports breastfeeding for mothers and babies.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which was the lead agency for the these negotiations, did not speak directly to the accusation of threats.

Of course, dominating a multi-billion dollar industry generates large profits-and plenty of money to invest in lobbying.

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