The Washington Post reports today that our government department of Health and Human Services, in 2004, caved in to lobby pressure and changed ads promoting breastfeeding. The formula manufacturers were "grateful" for intervention which stopped health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding."
The original print ads displayed asthma inhalers and insulin syringes topped with a bottle nipple; bluntly insinuating when you feed formula to an infant, you are feeding them asthma and diabetes. These ads were never shown in the United States, but here is an international ad with similar imagery.
The pressure from formula companies caused the U.S. health organization to abandon the scary, shocking ads for softer, less assaulting suggestions that plainly inform parents of breastfeeding benefits. The Human Health and Services department was informed beforehand that these ads would be ineffectual, but they spent our money on them anyway. Current reports show that the number of breastfeeding mothers is decreasing.
Is anyone surprised? After all, infant formulas are manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry and big drug companies are known for their powerful influence and generous spending in Washington.
I imagine pharmaceutical companies would not only lose money from the decrease in formula sales, but later on, sales would be lost by the fewer number of people taking diabetes and allergy medication.
Why do we allow these companies to make decisions about our health?
I am sure we would not let a company who makes money per every high school drop-out decide how we educate our children. Doesn't it seem just as logical that an industry that makes money from sick people should not be pulling the strings in our government health offices?
Everyone should take an interest in our government's soft promotion of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is more than the premiere bonding experience for mother and baby, it is the only way newly born human beings were intended to be nourished.
All mothers should breastfeed, plain and simple.
If a mother's health or physical limitations prevent her from doing so, fortunately formula is available as an artificial substitution. Keep in mind that this substance is a man-made chemical solution that is industrially manufactured. This should not be a mother's first choice for her baby.
In our society it seems acceptable for mothers to opt out of breastfeeding because it is an inconvenience.
If cooking dinner for the kids become too much of an inconvenience are we going to insert feeding tubes with a liquid supplement into each of their bellies? I'm sure they would all "turn out just fine", but really, it's just not an option!
Some parents believe that because their own mothers used formula and they turned out o.k., then that is what they should do too.
I guess that makes sense for some, but I was never able to look at any of our newborn children and maintain the philosophy of only trying to provide what is "good enough".