Target: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Goal: Praise mayor for discontinuing free infant formula samples at city hospitals
Nearly a year ago, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a voluntary program called “Latch on NYC” aimed at persuading hospitals to stop free formula giveaways and monitor formula usage like other medical supplies. The mayor is following the guidance of the CDC, WHO and Unicef. Twenty-eight of 40 hospitals in the city agreed to follow the program. Mr. Bloomberg deserves recognition for taking this bold step to promote healthy nourishment for babies.
Studies show that offering free formula to new mothers at hospitals can sway them away from breastfeeding. The underlying problem here is that, on subconscious level, women think that hospital staff are protecting their best interests. If formula is easily available at a hospital, a new mother assumes that it is just as healthy as breast milk. Meanwhile, health experts warn that even small amounts of formula dilute benefits of human milk by altering microorganisms that live in the intestines and decrease milk supply. In the early minutes, hours and days of a child’s life it is crucial to breastfeed exclusively.
States are catching up to this reality. Massachusetts and Rhode Island prohibited hospitals there to give women free samples of infant formula. Twenty-four hospitals in Oklahoma agreed to the same ban. New York City’s program deserves special attention. It has great resources for health care professionals and follows the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” written by Unicef. The list encourages every facility that provides maternity services and cares for newborn infants to have a written breastfeeding policy and to provide regular trainings to the health care staff on how to implement that policy. No food or drink other than breast milk is to be given to newborns, unless medically indicated. Pacifiers and artificial teats are prohibited, but rooming-in is highly encouraged. At the time of discharge from the hospital, mothers receive information about breastfeeding support groups and lactation consultants.
People in the U.S. are starting to catch on the connection between a healthy breastfeeding routine and reduction of such risks as obesity, diabetes, asthma and ear infections for the growing child. “Latch on NYC” is bound for success because it educates health care workers and new mothers on what is best for newborns. The program inevitably reduces costs in the long run. Commend Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his leadership.
Dear Mr. Bloomberg,
Your initiative “Latch on NYC” deserves recognition and replication across the country. It follows the guidelines of Unicef and its “Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.” It is imperative that a newborn is given breast right after birth and that any procedures that the mother has to go through be delayed if a feeding is in order.
Asking hospitals to stop giving free formula samples to new mothers is also a great idea. The problem is that if a health care facility is handing out formula, the mother thinks that the staff is protecting her best interests and that formula is just as good as her milk. This assumption leads women to stop breastfeeding earlier than those who did not get free formula samples at the hospital. As a result, the child has a higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, ear infections and asthma. This in turn causes higher healthcare costs.
Thank you for doing what is best for mothers, babies and society as a whole. By providing health care staff and new mothers with valuable resources and advice, you strengthened the community and empowered women.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rob via Flickr