Trump administration threatened tiny nation over breastfeeding

Trump administration threatened tiny nation over breastfeeding

President Donald Trump weighed in Monday to defend women's "access" to formula milk, after an article accused the United States of seeking to torpedo a World Health Organization resolution on breastfeeding. The resolution ended up passing, though the USA did succeed in getting the language altered slightly.

According to the Times, the U.S. delegation threatened retribution on trade and military aid to Ecuador to get the nation to drop the resolution and at least a dozen countries also avoided the resolution out of fear of the US. The WHO has long said that breastfeeding is the optimal feeding method for infants and recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life and continued feeding with introduction of other foods up to two years of age.

Meanwhile, reactions have been rolling in on Twitter since The New York Times report was released on Sunday, mostly criticizing the Trump administration for selling out to corporate interest.

But, at a gathering in Geneva this spring, the USA made a forceful case to defend the interests of manufacturers of breast milk substitutes. 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. But the USA insisted on removing language calling on the World Health Organization to offer technical support to officials trying to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", according to the Times. Mothers should be encouraged and supported to breastfeed; however - if breast milk is not available or not chosen - parents should have access to information from trusted sources.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

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According to the New York Times, the U.S.'s decision to side against breastfeeding shocked World Health officials and set off a contentious debate, which more than a dozen people from several countries recounted for the report. The Infant Nutrition Council of America has supported this non-partisan position since 2016, working with both the Obama and Trump administrations. "What's in human milk is genetically specific for its own infant". The code urges countries to stop the inappropriate marketing of formula and other substitutes as better for babies and aims to ensure breastmilk substitutes are used safely - according to the directions, without diluting the formula - when necessary.

The resolution was eventually passed, but only after the Russian government reintroduced the measure. In war zones and during humanitarian crises, infant formula makes sense, said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in this piece.

When contacted for a comment, the Department of Health and Human Services said the USA stance was in support of mothers who can not breast-feed for various reasons.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which tried to change the wording of the resolution, denies that it was involved in making threats against Ecuador. Ecuador was prepared to introduce the resolution.

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