US General Surgeons Office Call to Action on Breastfeeding - marketing tackled for the first time

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The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding  (1)  

 Today US Surgeon General's  long-awaited  Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding  was published.  


The statement  sets out very clearly why breastfeeding is crucial for the health of mothers and babies and calls on US policy makers to  support compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. This calls for an end to the promotion of all breastmilk substitutes. 


Patti Rundall, OBE, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action,  "Its remarkable and very welcome to see that the US  taking this step to endorse this vital international health recommendation at home. We know that the  late Senator Edward Kennedy was instrumental in 1978 in first calling for an international code to address the irresponsible marketing that was doing so much harm to health - but we have waited a long time for the US to take action to protect their babies at home."


 Last week in the UK, some industry funded scientists  published a comment piece in the British medical Journal which generated media coverage around the globe - suggesting that exclusive breastfeeding for six months created risks for health. (2) By stressing the importance  of exclusive breastfeeding for six months in her statement, the Surgeon General clearly expressed her opinion.   she  also said that if 90% of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the U.S. would annually save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs.  


Lida Lhotska, IBFAN's regional Coordinator for Europe, said, "I hope that this call for action will create momentum  so that US babies will receive the protection from commercial pressures that they deserve. I really welcome the emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding, but we have to remember that its also important for us to support breastfeeding  beyond six months, alongside healthy and safe  family foods for as long the mothers want.  Therefore serious reform of US maternity protection measures would be really welcome. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 which aims to make breastfeeding at work easier is a step in the right direction. "(4)


For more information about the US infant feeding situation follow this link to Update 42 which



For more information contact Patti Rundall: 07786 523493





2 WHO breastfeeding recommendations under attack from industry-funded scientists.

How Media reporting can derail health policy -

3    WHO statement



Later news: 

Monday, January 31, 2011  California Healthline: Hospitals Must Work on Breastfeeding Policies








The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding




The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding outlines steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.


How many American women breastfeed their babies?


Three out of four mothers (75%) in the U.S. start out breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card.

At the end of six months, breastfeeding rates fall to 43%, and only 13% of babies are exclusively breastfed.

Among African-American babies, the rates are significantly lower, 58% start out breastfeeding, and 28% breastfeed at six months, with 8% exclusively breastfed at six months.

The Healthy People 2020 objectives for breastfeeding are: 82% ever breastfed, 61% at 6 months, and 34% at 1 year.

What are the health benefits of breastfeeding?


Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia.

Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma.

Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.

Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

What are the economic benefits of breastfeeding?


Families who follow optimal breastfeeding practices can save between $1,200–$1,500 in expenditures on infant formula in the first year alone.

A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that if 90% of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the U.S. would annually save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs.

For both employers and employees, better infant health means fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off to care for sick children, and higher productivity.

Mutual of Omaha found that health care costs for newborns are three times lower for babies whose mothers participate in the company’s employee maternity and lactation program.

What obstacles do mothers encounter when they attempt to breastfeed?


Lack of experience or understanding among family members of how best to support mothers and babies.

Not enough opportunities to communicate with other breastfeeding mothers.

Lack of up-to-date instruction and information from health care professionals.

Hospital practices that make it hard to get started with successful breastfeeding.

Lack of accommodation to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace.

What can the health care community do?


More hospitals can incorporate the recommendations of UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

Provide breastfeeding education for health clinicians who care for women and children.

Ensure access to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.

What can employers do?


Start and maintain high-quality lactation support programs for employees.

Provide clean places for mothers to breastfeed.

Work toward establishing paid maternity leave for employed mothers.

What can community leaders do?


Strengthen programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.

Use community organizations to promote and support breastfeeding.

What can families and friends of mothers do?


Give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.

Take advantage of programs to educate fathers and grandmothers about breastfeeding.

What can policymakers do?


Support small nonprofit organizations that promote breastfeeding in African-American communities.

Support compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

Increase funding of high-quality research on breastfeeding.

Support better tracking of breastfeeding rates as well as factors that affect breastfeeding.








Patti Rundall,  OBE, Policy Director, Baby Milk Action

Secretariat of  the Baby Feeding Law Group

C/o Baby Milk Action, 34 Trumpington St,   Cambridge   CB2 1QY    

Work Tel: 01223 464420, Mobile: 07786 523493, Fax: 01223 464417


The Baby Feeding law Group is a coalition of 24 leading health professional and lay organisations working to bring UK and EU legislation into line with International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions. 


BFLG Member organisations: Association of Breastfeeding Mothers - Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services - Association of Radical Midwives - Baby Milk Action - Best Beginnings – Breastfeeding Community - Breastfeeding Network - Caroline Walker Trust - Community Practitioners and Health Visitors’ Association - Food Commission - Heart of Mersey - Lactation Consultants of Great Britain - La Leche League (GB) - Little Angels - Midwives Information and Resource Service - National Childbirth Trust - Royal College of Midwives - Royal College of Nursing   - Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - The Baby Café - UK Association for Milk Banking - Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative - UNISON - Women’s Environmental Network.


The Baby Feeding Law Group is also a member of the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition which is calling for action in 7 areas to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  Baby Milk Action takes the lead on Objective 7.
















This message is sent to you by Patti Rundall, OBE, Policy Director, Baby Milk Action

Secretariat for the Baby Feeding Law Group

Global Advocacy Task Force Coordinator for the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)

Trustee of Sustain

Baby Milk Action is the UK member of the International Nestlé Boycott Committee  and the Technical Office for Company Campaigns and the EU  for IBFAN's Coordinating Council   

(Please see the IBFAN website for the IBFAN Coordinator in your region)


Baby Milk Action, 34 Trumpington St, Cambridge, CB2 1QY

Work Tel: 01223 464420, Mobile: 07786 523493, Fax: 01223 464417






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