Health leaders stunned as US delegates oppose breastfeeding resolution

Trump administration threatened Ecuador over its support of breastfeeding resolution

Calling the story "fake news", he tweeted, "The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula".

According to several sources who took part the discussions, the USA threatened Ecuador, which was planning to introduce the resolution, by saying it would "unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid".

At a recent gathering of the World Health Assembly, the forum through which the World Health Organization governs and makes health recommendations, United States delegates caused a stir when they attempted to dissuade delegates from Ecuador from sponsoring a resolution to encourage breastfeeding.

Ultimately, it was Russian Federation that stepped up to introduce the resolution, and the United States did not directly object. But the US insisted on removing language calling on the World Health Organization to offer technical support to officials trying to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", according to the Times.

So why was the United States so reluctant to ratify a UN resolution on promoting breastfeeding worldwide and limiting advertisements for baby formula?

"We recognize not all women are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons", it added, saying they should have "full information about safe alternatives".

Scientists are loath to carry out double-blind studies that would provide one group with breast milk and another with breast milk substitutes. "It's supposed to move pretty smoothly because all of this work has been done in advance", she said.

Lucy Sullivan, the executive director of 1,000 Days, which promotes nutrition for children and women, told NPR that she does not agree the text would have reduced access to formula. Similar approaches have been successful in refugee camps, for instance, as well as in post-earthquake Ecuador-which is one of only 23 countries where more than 60% of children under six months are exclusively breastfed.

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While the HHS department's reasoning independently makes sense, all mothers definitely can not breastfeed for various reasons, it should be noted the resolution did not make it necessary to do so.

But in the US, disparities in race, income and geography underscore the work that's left to do to support USA mothers who want to give their infants breastmilk.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, a lot of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

Those risks include creating the formula precisely as instructed, storing it safely and cleaning and sanitizing bottles so the infant doesn't get sick.

Many countries, including USA now, abide by the International Code on Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.

The Trump administration's reported attempt to block an worldwide measure promoting breastfeeding could make it appear breastfeeding is under attack. "They're protecting the industry in a wide range of negotiations, from pharmaceuticals to infant formula to regulation of junk food".

Surprise and disappointment continued to register this week over reported USA opposition to an global resolution to encourage breastfeeding.

UNICEF and World Health Organization also recommend exclusive breastfeeding from within an hour of birth until the baby is 6 months old.

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