Trump blasts 'failing NY Times' over report on 'opposition' to breastfeeding measure

Grant Boone
July 12, 2018

President Trump tweeted that it is a "Fake News story" that "must be called out".

"Ecuador always endorsed all resolutions on breastfeeding that have been adopted in the past in the framework of the World Health Organization (WHO), the last, last month of May, was approved by consensus and had the support of the delegation Ecuadorian meeting".

The Times reported that the USA delegation embraced the interests of infant-formula manufacturers.

Amongst other things, the resolution urges member states "to increase investment in development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of laws, policies and programmes aimed at protection, promotion, including education and supportof breastfeeding" and "to end inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children".

A controversial passage apparently sought to strengthen enforcement and monitoring of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which was originally adopted in 1981.

Russian Federation was not dissuaded and introduced it.

In the end, the US's effort to dash the World Health Organization resolution encouraging breastfeeding was largely unsuccessful.

When the USA pushed to weaken language supporting breastfeeding in a WHO resolution at the World Health Assembly recently, Trump's administration prioritized the US dairy industry and the $70 billion baby food industry over babies' health, according to Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, a maternal-fetal medicine physician and president-elect of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

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The move was described as "stunning and shameful" by the online group Moms Rising, noted The Guardian, while Lucy Sullivan - from the group 1,000 Days, which promotes nutrition for babies and infants - said on Twitter the issue could be described as "public health versus private profit". They found no impact, except under one condition: In communities that lack clean water, access to formula raised infant mortality by 9.4 per 1000 births-essentially, the availability of formula "led to more bad water getting to infants", he said.

The Times notes a 2016 series in the Lancet in which researchers estimated that universal breastfeeding could spare the lives of 823,000 children each year and save $302 billion in economic losses. The embassy did not respond to NPR's request for comment.

But, at a gathering in Geneva this spring, the USA made a forceful case to defend the interests of manufacturers of breast milk substitutes.

That means the Trump administration was using the economic and diplomatic weight of USA imperialism to promote policies that kill babies. "The United States was fighting to protect women's abilities to make the best choices for the nutrition of their babies".

A spokesperson for HHS told the Times, "We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons".

Trump argues his administration supports breastfeeding but also wants women to have access to formula. Millions of infants have safely consumed formula for decades.

The booklet states that companies that have policies that support nursing mothers also gain from lower turnover rates and higher productivity. The Department of Health and Human Services, however, defended its decision to reword the resolution.

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