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    When breasts are bad for business [letter]

    Chetley A

    BMJ. British Medical Journal. 1984 Sep 15; 289(6446):695.

    John Dobbing's review of the British television program, "When Breasts are Bad for Business," contained a number of inaccurate statements. The World Health Organization's international code for the marketing of breast milk substitutes was not developed by a group of emotional activists; it was carefully developed in consultation with governments, international agencies, and experts in science, medicine, and marketing, and subsequently, ratified by 118 governments. According to the reviewer, the industry is abiding by the code; in reality, only 1 company has agreed to abide by the code, 5 or 6 companies are considering some of the code's provisions, and the approximately 80 remaining companies have given no indication concerning their willingness to adopt the code. Contrary to the reviewer's interpretation, the code does not recommend the promotion of infant formulas by any health facility, including hospitals. Furthermore, the effort to reform the marketing of infant formulas is not a veiled attempt to abolish all processed baby foods. The purpose of the code is to ensure that infant formulas are used only when necessary and not for routine feeding. The benefits of breast feeding are clearly recognized by health professionals. The reviewer's contention that the infant formula industry has been an active supporter of research which has promoted breast feeding must be refuted. Recommendations stemming from research on breast feeding have not been implemented. Neither the medical profession nor the industry has made an effort to disseminate information on the value of breast feeding nor on the methods available for promoting breast feeding.
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