Washington Urged By Cornell Nutritionist to Curb "Aggressive" Marketing of "Harmful" Infant Formula

Federal legislation to curb industry-marketing practices in the sale of infant formula and to enforce a World Health Assembly code banning the promotion of formula was called for November 12 by a Cornell University physician and nutritional scientist. Mothers who don't breastfeed, he claims, endanger their babies' health.

Michael Latham, M.D., professor of international nutrition at Cornell, says he's urging Washington to take legislative action against what he calls "aggressive" marketing and promotion of infant formula in the United States and abroad, which, he says, "violates a basic human right of mothers and babies to give and receive breast milk."

"This violation, which is largely ignored, is harmful to the health, nutritional status, and even the survival of infants all over the world," he said at the National Breastfeeding Policy Conference. "The negative impact that the marketing and promotion of infant formula has on the health of babies in this country can be compared to the deleterious effects that cigarette marketing has on the health of teens and adults."

According to Latham, widely documented risks of not breastfeeding include reduced IQ, compromised psychological development, greater rates of ear infections, diarrhea, obesity, allergies, and even certain life-threatening illnesses and diseases. The influential American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement in December of 1997 strongly supporting breastfeeding.

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