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Infant formula

Infant formula manufacturers routinely violate marketing rules in Africa

Saturday, January 15, 2011 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: infant formula, Africa, health news

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(NaturalNews) Infant formula companies regularly promote their products in violation international standards adopted to protect infant health, an article on AllAfrica.com charges.

So widely accepted are the benefits of breastfeeding that in 1981, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) adopted an international code for the promotion of infant formulas and other breast milk substitutes. The purpose of the guidelines is to promote breastfeeding and the make sure that breast milk substitutes are used only with informed consent and only when absolutely necessary.

Breast milk provides important nutrition and disease protection, and plays a critical role in the development of a child's immune system.

"[Breastfeeding] could save 41 percent of newborns who would otherwise die in their first month of life," writes Andreas Moritz in Timeless Secrets of Health & Rejuvenation.

"Breastfeeding right away not only increases the likelihood that infants will continue to breastfeed, but also gives them colostrum, a mother's first milk," Moritz writes." As research has demonstrated, colostrum is rich in antibodies and essential nutrients, important for building a strong immune system right from the start. Early breastfeeding also helps mothers through improved lactation and less loss of blood."

Yet UNICEF estimates that 1.4 million children under the age of two die each year due to the improper promotion of infant formula over breast milk, particularly in low-income countries.

Improper practices include giving bottles to newborns, which interferes with a mother's own milk production and can make it difficult for her to resume breastfeeding; giving away formula and related products to health care facilities; advertising formula directly to mothers; offering discounted formula; placing advertisements disguised as "educational materials" in health facilities; and failing to prominently label formula packages in a language easily understood by the mother.

"Specified text should be on the packaging, warning that breast feeding is best for babies and that the products should only be used on the advice of a health professional," the code reads. "There should be no pictures or text that might idealize the use of infant formula."

Sources for this story include: http://allafrica.com/stories/201008050648.ht....

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