Turning to the tiniest kids in “kids and food,” the office of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a new initiative under which participating city hospitals will restrict access to infant formula in an effort to encourage breast feeding by new moms.
Launched back in May under the auspices of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Latch On NYC promotes breast feeding by seeking to:
- Enforce the New York State hospital regulation to not supplement breastfeeding infants with formula unless medically indicated and documented on the infant’s
- Limit access to infant formula by hospital staff
- Discontinue the distribution of promotional or free
- Prohibit the display and distribution of infant formula advertising or promotional materials in any hospital location
As far as I can tell, the two-month old initiative appears to be making news today because of a new requirement, starting September 3rd, that will “keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.”
Not surprisingly, conservative commentators are having a “nanny state” field day, especially since this news breaks so soon after Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sodas sold in large containers (with one wag facetiously worrying about babies requiring more than 16 ounces of formula.)
But of course, the banning of formula manufacturer “swag” like free diaper bags is nothing new, and certainly not confined to New York City hospitals. And participation in programs like Latch On NYC does seem to work; one hospital quoted in the New York Post reports that breastfeeding rates there have climbed from 39 to 68 percent under the program.
My feeling is that encouraging new moms to breastfeed is a very good thing, and so is banning from the maternity ward the shameless profit-seeking of formula manufacturers. But browbeating moms who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed is definitely not a good thing, and that creates a fine line for hospitals to walk.
What do you think about all this?
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