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    The controversial code for mother's milk.

    Science News. 1981 May 30; 119(22):340.

    A debate occurring in the U.S. is the question of the World Health Organization's power to regulate the sale of infant formulas. In a recent meeting in Geneva the U.S. was the only country to vote against a code to restrict the marketing practices of and ban advertising by the $2 billion a year infant formula industry. The final vote was 118 to 1. 2 senior staffers at USAID, Stephen Joseph and Eugene N. Babb resigned in protest of the vote. On the one hand are the health care professionals and activists who believe that the promotion of infant formula discourages the more healthy use of mother's milk. The U.S. administration, supported by lobbyists from the formula industry, claims there is no evidence for a link between formula use and infant mortality; and maintains that the baby formula code violates First Amendment protection of commercial speech and restricts international trade. Mother's milk contains essential nutritional trace elements and antibodies that help protect infants against infection. Even slightly malnourished mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies for 5 or 6 months. Since breast-feeding depends on confidence, infant formula advertising suggesting formula babies will be healthier, can trigger a worry reflex that leads to inadequate lactation. The Reagan administration claims that it is inappropriate for the UN to move in the direction of regulating economic activity.
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