Conscientization: Infant Feeding Choice and the Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes

Tuesday, 8 July 2008: 9:10 AM
Kandis M. Natoli, MSN, RN, IBCLC , College of Nursing, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Learning Objective 1: Describe the Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes

Learning Objective 2: Identify marketing practices that diminish breastfeeding initiation, duration or intensity

Breastfeeding is the natural biologic mode of infant feeding and breast-milk is irrefutably superior to any artificially prepared substitute. The manufacture of breast-milk substitutes was a great technological gift of the 20th Century. The original intent was to provide a life giving replacement when the mother had died or the dyad was unable to breastfeed. A combination of scientific ignorance regarding the complexity of the species specificity of milk, the self-interest of the medical profession, and the manufacturers' drive for profit eventually led to unnecessary and improper use of breast-milk substitutes. Advertising of breast-milk substitutes has contributed to the diminished rates of exclusive breastfeeding world wide. This combined with dramatic changes in culture among the emerging nations has resulted in an increase in illness and a tragic loss of life for millions of the world's infants. Recently, scientific communities have made great progress in the promotion and support of breastfeeding. When members of the infant food industry have agreed to cease inappropriate marketing, they have been unable or unwilling to maintain the commitment. The Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Organization as a set of recommendations that regulate marketing so that mothers were able to make infant feeding decisions free from commercial persuasion. Every nation is encouraged to create, legislate, implement, and enforce protective laws to ensure that families can base their infant feeding decisions not on advertising claims, but on the evidence of science.