Free Formula on the Decline


Creative Commons License photo credit: hkinuthia

One of the concerns that breastfeeding advocates have voiced in the past has been the issue of how some healthcare providers push formula. Hospitals have been in the practice for decades of handing how free formula to new mothers. Breastfeeding advocates argue that this turns the hospitals into a marketing tool for formula makers, and discourages breastfeeding. According to a recent survey, however, free formula may be on the decline.





The trend is dropping dramatically, as well. This survey looked at the practice of hospitals distributing baby formula in 2007 and then again in 2010. The number of hospitals that were not giving out free formula to new mothers doubled in just that time.

Still, there’s a long way to go for those who would like to see the practice banned. Back in 2007, 14 percent of hospitals weren’t handing out free formula to new mothers. In 2010, that percentage rose to 28.

This is a big deal, when you think about it. The World Health Organization has specific rules regarding how formula should be marketed, such as suggesting that it shouldn’t be promoted for the general population. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six month’s of a baby’s life.

As always, issues surrounding breastfeeding are proving to be controversial, with some loud voices amid the discussion.

Breastfeeding advocates argue that breastfeeding can be difficult to begin with. If hospitals send a mother home with formula, it makes it easy for her to give up on breastfeeding.

On the other hand, most mothers approve of the practice. A survey by one group in 2009 discovered that more than 90 percent of mothers approved of hospitals giving away packages with free formula.

Advocates argue that physicians and hospitals shouldn’t be limited in how they’re able to treat patients, and that there are times when giving samples of formula should be entirely appropriate.

While it’s not clear whether the trend will continue, for now breastfeeding advocates have made serious progress in doing away with the practice.

So, what do you think? Should hospitals and doctors be allowed to give away free formula?


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