US threatens nations over world breastfeeding resolution, shocking health officials

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just one portion, calling on the World Health Organization to provide support to member states seeking to halt "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", was removed.

Health and Human Services spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley also described as "patently false" attempts to portray the US position as anti-breastfeeding. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty", Trump tweeted Monday.

Many American women agree, saying the cultural mandate to breastfeed no matter their personal circumstances and zealous hospital lactation programs is another example of how women's bodies are not their own to manage.

"A breastfeeding mother must pump her milk as often as the baby usually eats", writes the United States Breastfeeding Committee, a nonprofit based in Chicago.

Why it matters: "Breastfeeding is one of the most cost-effective interventions for improving maternal and child health", said Georges Benjamin, executive director for the American Public Health Association, in a released statement.

The Times said Ecuador was slated to introduce the World Health Assembly breastfeeding resolution, but after the US threatened to "unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid", it "quickly acquiesced". But Russia rescued the resolution by stepping in and introducing it.

In the US, 83% of babies start out being breastfed, but only 25% are exclusively breastfed six months later, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anderson is not alone in her sentiment that the U.S. government opposed the resolution to bolster the dairy-based infant formula industry. Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has said that "the decision to breastfeed is not a lifestyle choice, it's a critical decision for infant welfare".

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The Trump administration also denied that US officials had threatened trade sanctions in the debate over the resolution, AP reported. 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.

"A major risk of formula feeding in low-income settings is that the formula is available without the other safety precautions", Palmquist said.

The booklet states that companies that have policies that support nursing mothers also gain from lower turnover rates and higher productivity.

There were some signs even before the meeting in Geneva that there might be some pushback against the original resolution. Trade threats were not made by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a spokesman. "The Trump administration takes a bold stance against mother's milk", a New Republic headline read. And that is especially true when there's a $45 billion global business like infant formula at stake.

Surprise and disappointment continued to register this week over reported US opposition to an worldwide resolution to encourage breastfeeding. The Infant Nutrition Council of America has supported this non-partisan position since 2016, working with both the Obama and Trump administrations. Perez-Escamilla is also a scientific adviser to World Health Organization on the topic of breastfeeding.

But in the US, at least, protections for nursing women are codified in state and federal laws.

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