Formula Marketing Wars Are Impacting Breastfeeding
September 12, 2016
The Jerusalem Post — New competition between baby formula makers in Israel has prompted some to make dubious claims about their benefits, leading Israeli health experts to ask the Health Ministry to encourage breastfeeding.
Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, a leading epidemiologist and public health physician at BGU’s Department of Health Systems Management, added his voice to the effort in a letter written to Israel Health Minister Yaakov Litzman recently.
The “aggressive media war,” says Prof. Davidovitch, “is liable to mislead the public into thinking that the Ministry of Health encourages giving babies formula, or encourages women to forgo breastfeeding and give their babies formula instead.”
Shufersal, a distributor of Perrigo baby formula in Israel, advertises the formula as having “Health Ministry approval,” despite the fact that health authorities recommend breastfeeding exclusively during a baby’s first six months.
Although 90 percent of women say they want to breastfeed after giving birth, only about 58 percent do so because of factors such as mothers being separated from babies in obstetrics wards and a lack of a sufficient number of professional breastfeeding counselors on site.
“In those hospitals that do have enough counselors, breastfeeding rates are much higher,” says Prof. Davidovitch.