Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials

Calling time on formula milk adverts

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1200 (Published 18 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1200

Re: Calling time on formula milk adverts

Kia ora.

You aptly point out that falling rates of breastfeeding are multifactorial including social circumstances and that perhaps some of it is to be blamed on advertisements for formula feeds.

Banning advertisements for formula is perhaps trying to shift the focus from what the root cause for its use is in the first instance. Just because formula is being used more than often for children worldwide is not evidence enough that it is being used just because it is available, it is a choice that some mothers have had to make with heavy hearts. Before formula was available there used to be 'wet nurses', of course a much superior alternative for formula for women who could not breast feed for whatever reasons.

The elephant in the room needs to be addressed, banning advertisements but keeping products on shelves is not a solution, the solution would begin by asking why mothers are pushed to make that decision - would making human breast milk more readily available change some of this practice?

For now as a GP I will be interested in knowing what formulas are available and what my patient population is using as an alternative/additive to breastmilk.

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 March 2019
Bushra Wahid
GP
New Zealand