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How Hospital Bags With Formula Can Undermine Breastfeeding

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USA Today has a great piece today about how those gift bags for new moms can influence breastfeeding rates.

“Hospitals need to greatly improve practices to support mothers who want to breast-feed,” Dr. Thomas Frieden said last month in releasing a CDC report card on breast-feeding. It showed that less than 5 percent of U.S. infants are born in “baby-friendly” hospitals that fully support breast-feeding, and that 1 in 4 infants receive formula within hours of birth.

Routinely offering new moms free formula is among practices the CDC would like to end. In some cases, hospitals agree to give out those freebies in exchange for getting free supplies for special-needs infants, Frieden said…

A nationwide study of more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals and maternity centers published last year in the Journal of Human Lactation found that 91 percent sent new moms home with free formula in 2006-07. A smaller 2010 study of 1,239 hospitals suggests that the practice has decreased, although most — 72 percent — still offered formula. That study is being released Monday in October’s Pediatrics.

“I don’t think hospitals are the right place to market anything and I don’t think hospitals should be marketing a product that is nutritionally inferior to breast milk,” said study author Anne Merewood, an associate pediatrics professor at Boston University medical school and editor of the Journal of Human Lactation.

“People do think if a doctor gives something it must be good for you,” Merewood said.

Written by: AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner