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One Of The Latest Breastfeeding Controversies Was Fueled By The US

Here's why breastfeeding is being pushed by the international health community.
Posted at 1:11 PM, Jul 10, 2018

Breastfeeding is natural for a lot of women, but over the years there have been plenty of global controversies surrounding it. Now, one of the latest controversies has been caused by the U.S. 

A global nutrition discussion at the World Health Assembly brought forward a resolution that intended to outline the health benefits of mothers breastfeeding their children. The resolution would've also been a dig at formula companies. 

As News Deeply reports, the U.S. wasn't on board with clauses that would've tightened regulations for how baby formulas are marketed. The New York Times notes the marketing of some of the products can be misleading or even downright wrong. The U.S.' pushback left many international representatives and nutrition experts stunned. 

While breastfeeding isn't an option for all mothers, research shows breastfeeding offers a slew of benefits — like protecting a baby from infections and even lowering mortality rates. To tap into these benefits fully, the World Health Organization recommends mothers feed their babies this way for at least two years. 

In the U.S., just a little more than 22 percent of babies who are six months old get all of their nutrition by being breastfed. 

There are plenty of potential factors for why mothers in the U.S. aren't relying on breast milk longer — ranging from the lack of paid parental leave to parents not being provided proper hospital support. 

As for the resolution, the World Health Assembly did move it along, but not before removing the marketing clauses. 

Shortly after a New York Times article on the subject was released, President Donald Trump clarified the U.S.' stance. He tweeted, "The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don’t believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty."

So, is Trump's argument valid? Well, it's hard to tell exactly how he's connecting poverty to breastfeeding.

One quick conclusion might be: Breast milk is free and formula costs money, so mothers in poverty don't have an option like formula. One new mother wrote an op-ed in the Guardian saying products to improve her breastfeeding experience were just as costly as formula.

As for Trump's malnutrition argument, UNICEF says it's still safe for mothers who are malnourished to breastfeed. Of course, their own nutrition needs should be met. 

The U.S. has been committed to global breastfeeding policies and marketing of formulas since the World Health Assembly introduced an international code in 1981.