[Note from HIFA moderator: This message from Nicholas Cunningham was sent to both HIFA and CHIFA, and refers to an ongoing vigorous discussion on CHIFA, our sister forum on child health and rights. I invite all HIFA members with an interest in child health to join CHIFA to follow the discussions: http://www.hifa.org/join/join-chifa-child-health-and-rights With thanks, Neil]
Dear colleagues: 7 July, 2020
Sometimes the most effective reaction to noxious influences is judo style: take what's coming at you and de- or con-vert its energy into something positive.
Specifically with regard to artificial milk promotion, a useful approach is to promote the consumption of formula to the mothers, especially to the lactating mothers.
As we all know, it takes more calories to exclusively breast feed an infant than to nurture a third trimester baby. However, In many least developed areas, most of the best land is usually devoted to cash crops, eggs are to sell, and the family staple tends to be::
- high in starch and low on protein,
- often eaten by men folk before women (even if pregnant or lactating)) and children, and hence
- inadequate to meet the needs of those most in need.
Regulating the marketing practices of Nestle, Mead Johnson etc. should of course require them to:
- uniformly and effectively promote the "best practice" for babies 0-6 months: exclusive breast feeding;
- support bottle feeding only on doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner prescription;
- provide free or governmentally subsidized artificial milk for (non lactase deficient) lactating mothers or babies with special needs, and
- for these babies: support, educate and advocate for cup and spoon, (not bottle feeding),
- for all babies everywhere, support adequate calorie and protein rich, digestible weaning foods as supplements to breast milk in the second six months of life.
- promote artificial formula feeding:
- only after total weaning off the breast,
- never by bottle, and,
- if part of better weaning food, at a cost available to all families!
Women when provided with adequate nutrition,
- even when in conflict zones,
- when displaced or
- in refugee situations,
are quite capable, given adequate food, of successfully providing for the total nutritional needs of their babies for the first half year via the breast:
- to their own considerable satisfaction, and
- for the optimal benefit of their infants..
Expecting profit oriented international corporations to put the needs of babies or impoverished moms ahead of their obligations
to their stock holders as expressed by their quarterly earnings, is unrealistic and foolish.
Only until and unless we:
- who are both cognoscente of the evidence and understand the significant implications for a healthy society,
- together with WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFA), the American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional bodies, and all global health and nutrition agencies,
unite in support of this science based approach to infant feeding will families be safe from the long standing predatory inclinations and clever promotions of the artificial food industry!
Nicholas Cunningham MD Dr P.H.
HIFA profile: Nicholas Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pediatrics & Clinical Public Health at Columbia University, New York, USA. He is interested in International Primary Maternal and Child Health Care, community owned, professionally overseen, and supported by $/power interests, encorporating integrated cure/prevention, midwifery/child care, child saving/child spacing, nutrition/infection, health/education (especially female), monitored but not evaluated for at least 5-10 years, based on methods pioneered by David Morley at Imesi (Nigeria) and by the Aroles at the Jamkhed villages in Maharashtra State in India.
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