The most significant first step that can be taken is to enact a
complete ban on marketing formula to the public. Every member of
the World Health Organization, including -- as of May 1994 -- the
United States, is already on record as supporting an international
code forbidding all marketing of substitutes for breastmilk to the
Health Organization's Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
Some nations have already implimented the code by adopting laws
that strictly regulate formula marketing. However, nothing has been
done so far to implement this code in the United States.
Furthermore, every can of formula should bear a warning, similar
to the Surgeon General's warning on every pack of cigarettes: "Warning:
this product is substantially inferior to human milk. Use of this
product instead of human milk increases your baby's chances of becoming
seriously ill and dying. Breastfeed if you can, and get help breastfeeding
if you have difficulties. Use of this product to supplement breastfeeding
may reduce and ultimately eliminate your supply of breastmilk."
Similarly, the Baby Friendly Hospital
Initiative outlines the steps that every maternity hospital
can and should take to promote and support breastfeeding. Legislation
could require hospitals that receive government funding to conform
to the BFHI principles.
Funding for breastfeeding education should also be commensurate
with the risk posed by formula-feeding. Government should be spending
money to educate the public and the medical profession about the
importance of breastfeeding. For example: every primary and secondary
school curriculum that touches on the nature of human reproduction
and development or on nutrition should contain a unit on why breastfeeding
is the only normal way to feed a baby. Medical and nursing schools
should teach lactation physiology and breastfeeding management.
Television and radio public service announcements warning parents
of the dangers of formula-feeding - similar to those that now warn
parents of the dangers of lead poisoning and smoking during pregnancy
- should be funded by the government and broadcast often.
The private sector can also do alot. Working pro-breastfeeding
messages into entertainment shows as well as news and public affairs
programming, is one contribution that the media can make. Employers
can accomodate the needs of nursing mothers in their employ by cooperating
in bringing infant day-care close enough to the workplace to allow
daytime nursings for the babies of working mothers or at least setting
aside a small private place for them to pump their milk during the