205062 Crying over spilt milk: Corporate peddling of infant formula in the developing world

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:30 PM

Rachel E. Adams , Anthropology, University of Oregon, Lake Oswego, OR
Despite protests in the 1970s and early 1980s over the aggressive marketing by multinational corporations of infant formula in the developing world, and promises by such corporations that they would cease these activities, recent investigations have shown that violations of the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes are widespread. The WHO agreement includes provisions that prohibit multinationals from directly marketing to patients and providing free samples or gifts to physicians and hospitals. The benefits of breast feeding for the first six to twelve months of infant life are well known and include improved growth and development, fewer allergies, and the transmission of antibodies that protect infants from chronic respiratory and digestive disorders. Because of poor water quality in many parts of the developing world, mothers who use infant formula instead of breast feeding put their children at risk for many water-borne illnesses.

This presentation will discuss violations of the WHO agreement, list the corporations involved in aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes in the developing world, and provide suggestions for consumers, health care professionals, and governments to combat this pernicious problem.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this presentation, the learner will be able to: -Describe the benefits of breastfeeding -Explain the history of multinational corporations selling formula to the developing world -List the major corporations involved in peddling infant formula in the developing world -List the major tenets of the WHO international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes -Discuss the nature and extent of violations that occur today in such marketing -List ways in which individuals, the public health community, and the U.S. government can increase breastfeeding and combat inappropriate marking of infant formula in the developing world

Keywords: Breast Feeding, Infant Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This developed out of a research project that I performed in a course on global corporate responsibility. I volunteer with two different women's work organizations, acting as a campus organizer for one.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.