Breastfeeding is a collective responsibility, and should be protected, promoted and supported through intersectoral policies.
- Commercial infant formula does not match the lively and dynamic nature of breast milk, nor the interaction between mother and baby during breastfeeding.
- The commercial infant formula industry claims that typical infant behaviors, such as crying and sleep routines different from those of adults, are problems that are solved by their products.
The regional launch of the Lancet Breastfeeding Series 2023 was held today at the Universidad Iberoamericana, in collaboration with organizations committed to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding: Yale University, Pacto por la Primera Infancia, UNICEF, El Poder del Consumidor, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (INSP), Save the Children, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) and Un Kilo de Ayuda.
Panelists from different countries in the region and various international organizations, civil society and academia were present. In this great event, a call to action was made to governments and society in general, so that from different sectors, they can contribute to generate a much friendlier environment for breastfeeding, allowing mothers and their children to receive the great benefits of breastfeeding.
One of the main messages of the Series is to put an end to misleading advertising of commercial infant formulas through a global legal treaty, said Dr. Rafael Perez-Escamilla of Yale University, co-author and presenter of the Series.
The Lancet Series is conformed by three articles that address, among other topics, how certain typical behaviors of infants and young children (sleep patterns different from those of adults and frequent crying, both part of normal development) are misinterpreted, negatively affecting breastfeeding. Dr. Sonia Hernandez Cordero, academic and researcher at the Universidad Iberoamericana and co-author of the Series, commented that an article in the Series describes, in a detailed way, the strategies behind the marketing of commercial infant formulas that target mothers, families, health professionals, politicians and decision makers.
During the event, Dr. Anabelle Bonvecchio of the National Institute of Public Health presented the most recent data on breastfeeding practices in the country, highlighting that a high percentage of children in the country still do not receive the benefits of exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding.
Aranzazu Alonso, Executive Director of the Pact for Early Childhood, called on all sectors to create conditions that facilitate the decision and possibility for mothers to breastfeed their children: "Of course it is possible to create conditions that favor breastfeeding, as a working mother I have experienced it firsthand: it is urgent to extend maternity leave to 24 weeks," she said.
Globally, the most common reasons cited by many women for turning to commercial infant formulas and abandoning breastfeeding are: 1) the belief that they are not able to produce enough breast milk and 2) the misunderstanding of certain common baby behaviors such as frequent crying. These misconceptions, reinforced by marketing strategies carried out by the commercial infant formula producing industry, can be prevented or successfully addressed with the right support. From this arises the other major recommendation of the Series on government action to provide accurate, objective and timely information on breastfeeding, accompanied by better practical support by well-trained health professionals, in conjunction with parents and communities. In relation to this recommendation, Dr. Mireya Vilar Compte, from Montclair University and coordinator of the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) Initiative in Mexico, pointed out the importance of having tools such as BBF to monitor and follow up on policies and programs aimed at protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding.
Representatives of the Pact for Early Childhood, Consumer Power, Save the Children and Un Kilo de Ayuda, gave timely response to the recommendations issued by the co-authors of the Series, as well as international organizations such as UNICEF and PAHO, which highlighted the relevance of such events for the dissemination and application of evidence at the regional level.
Governments and society must value the work of mothers in caring for their babies, young children and family. Likewise, recognize the urgent need to invest adequately in maternity protection for the benefit of the large number of women working in the formal and informal economy in our region.
If you missed the event, watch the recording on EQUIDE's Youtube page! Youtube del EQUIDE!
- Breastfeeding: crucially important, but increasingly challenged in a market-driven world
- Marketing of commercial milk formula: a system to capture parents, communities, science, and policy
- The political economy of infant and young child feeding: confronting corporate power, overcoming structural barriers, and accelerating progress