Breastfeeding Medicine

Physicians blogging about breastfeeding

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine urges AAP to end formula marketing partnership

with 5 comments

New Rochelle, NY, December 27, 2013—The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine today asked the American Academy of Pediatrics to end its formula marketing relationship with Mead Johnson.

“AAP participation in formula marketing undermines consensus medical recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and is harmful to the health of mothers and infants,” wrote Wendy Brodribb, president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. “We urge the AAP to discontinue this relationship with Mead Johnson.”

In an email message to members of the AAP’s Section on Breastfeeding, AAP President Thomas McInerny stated, “The inclusion of formula in hospital discharge bags, along with the AAP educational materials Mead Johnson purchased, has sparked considerable discussion. The Academy has initiated conversations with Mead Johnson to ensure the AAP is not connected with distribution of formula samples in the future.”

The ABM executive committee urged the AAP to set strict guidelines regarding formula marketing, stating, “We further urge the AAP leadership to implement a formal policy prohibiting Academy participation in direct-to-consumer marketing of formula.”

As reported last week in The New York Times, the AAP has contracted with Mead Johnson to provide educational materials for the formula manufacturer’s hospital discharge bags. Rigorous studies have found that mothers who receive bags containing formula samples and coupons introduce formula earlier than mothers who receive non-commercial information.

Furthermore, families who plan to formula feed from the start perceive the brand-name discharge bags as an endorsement from their health care provider, leading them to spend hundreds of dollars on pricey brand-name formula, rather than equivalent generic products.

“Concern about these harmful effects of formula marketing has led two thirds of America’s 45 top hospitals to discontinue formula advertising in their maternity wards,” Dr. Wendy Brodribb, ABM President wrote. “It is therefore deeply troubling that the AAP has contracted with Mead Johnson to support this practice.”

Written by bfmed

December 27, 2013 at 2:01 pm

5 Responses

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  1. While I completely agree, what about the mothers who absolutely can not breastfeed? I would give ANYTHING to be able to breastfeed my kids- or at least know why I can’t. While a partnership with Mead Johnson is not the way to go by any means…. Dissemination of non-bias formula knowledge is by far essential so parents who can’t breastfeed are well informed.

    Colleen. Malone

    December 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    • Dear Colleen, it’s not about formula itself. It’s mainly about marketing and physician-formula business bondage. Medical staff should firstly educate mothers and help them breastfeed, and, in those cases, where it is not possible, it’s either donor milk or individually, one-on-one doctor prescribed formula. Dissemination of any formula system-wide in unacceptable and harmful. It is covered in the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which have been published in 1981 by WHO (

      Asta Vilpisauskiene, IBCLC

      December 31, 2013 at 2:31 am

  2. Colleen, we need donor milk banks to really help people like you just like they do in Scandinavian countries and in Brazil. Human milk for human babies.


    December 28, 2013 at 1:14 am

  3. The AAP simply cannot allow formula reps, with their advertising and marketing budgets, to infiltrate hospitals and pediatricians’ offices. There are published risks to infant formulas, and there are well-known health benefits to breastfeeding and providing breast milk. The AAP needs to take the morale high road.

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