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'Formula milk should carry cigarette-style warnings'

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Mon, Feb 18, 2013 12:00 hrs

London, Feb 18 (IANS) Formula milk should carry larger 'cigarette-style' statutory warnings that "breast feeding is the best" for the new-born child, according to a leading British charity.

A report, Superfood for Babies, released by 'Save the Children' Monday, said the lives of 95 babies could be saved every hour worldwide, 830,000 a year, if mothers breastfed immediately after giving birth.

The proposal would apply to the UK, European and the developing world world as well.

It points out the benefits of babies receiving colostrum, the mother's first milk within an hour of birth. This kickstarts children's immune systems, making them three times more likely to survive, the Daily Mail reports.

However, the report says marketing practices by some breast milk substitute companies can result in mothers believing formula is the best way to feed their baby even if they are unable to afford it.

The agency is launching a petition to get breast milk substitute companies 'to increase health warnings that formula is inferior to breast milk to cover a third of its packaging'.

At present, all formula milks in Britain have to carry mandatory advice under the heading 'important notice' that says "breast feeding is best for babies".

The message "breastfeeding is best" is carried on an advice panel the size of two postage stamps and hidden among information about ingredients and how to make it.

Mothers are advised that the "product be used only on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse ... pharmacist, or other professional responsible for maternal and child care."

However, campaigners claim that the move will only make mothers feel guilty, who want to breastfeed but are unable to do so.

Brendan Cox, director of policy at Save the Children, said changes to warnings would have to apply in Britain and other developed countries because the packs might be exported to the third world countries.




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