Is the Trump Administration at War with Breastfeeding?

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg via Getty Images

A shocking report has revealed that in a clear intervention in favor of infant formula manufacturers, the United States government of Donald Trump threatened Ecuador over a breastfeeding resolution at the United Nations saying that it will levy trade sanctions against the South American country if it did not drop it.

The New York Times said the USA was "embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers" and even threatened Ecuador and other countries with financial retaliation.

Fearing retaliation, several other countries backed away from the measure as well, according to the report.

Eventually, it was Russian Federation that chose to introduce the measure.

When breastfeeding mothers feed their babies exclusively with formula, they quickly stop producing breast milk, making it impossible to revert back. These decisions are made more fraught by hypertargeted digital marketing about nursing and all the other hot debates-whether to vaccinate a child or not, to medicate them for ADHD and the many other questions for which there is no one answer.

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But Trump said that the Times left out some crucial information: namely, that the administration supports breastfeeding, but that it doesn't want to limit women's access to formula when they need it. It is also beneficial for mothers, leading to less risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. "It's supposed to move pretty smoothly because all of this work has been done in advance", she said. "They may also not have the support of skilled breastfeeding counselors and other health care providers who can assist them with breastfeeding difficulties".

While the HHS department's reasoning independently makes sense, all mothers definitely can not breastfeed for various reasons, it should be noted the resolution did not make it necessary to do so.

In 1981-the height of a massive controversy over Nestlé's aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in poor countries-the "availability of formula" resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in areas with bad water, they found.

'The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children, ' an H.H.S. spokesman said.

While not all women are able to or choose to breastfeed, decades of research have shown that breastfeeding carries health benefits for babies and mothers, as well as saving money for families.

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Met with resistance from nations around the table, US delegates began threatening, according to other officials at the summit. These are situations during which it has been common to solicit formula donations for the affected countries, says Maaike Arts, an early childhood nutrition specialist with UNICEF.

"The formula industry is a multibillion-dollar industry", said Sullivan.

On social media, some pointed to the report as the latest evidence of the Trump administration's top priority-serving corporate interests, even at the expense of public health.

"Lucy Sullivan, executive director of 1,000 Days, the USA -headquartered global group working to improve nutrition for babies and infants, said in a Twitter thread that the US intervention amounted to 'public health versus private profit".

UNICEF and World Health Organization also recommend exclusive breastfeeding from within an hour of birth until the baby is 6 months old.

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