Deborah L. Kaplan and Kristina M. Graff
J Urban Health. 2008 Jul; 85(4): 486–504.
Breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition and the only necessary food for the first 6 months of an infant’s life. Infant formula is deficient and inferior to breast milk in meeting infants’ nutritional needs. The infant formula industry has contributed to low rates of breastfeeding through various methods of marketing and advertising infant formula. Today, in New York City, although the majority of mothers initiate breastfeeding (~85%), a minority of infants is breastfed exclusively at 8 weeks postpartum (~25%). The article reviews the practices of the formula industry and the impact of these practices. It then presents the strategic approach taken by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and its partners to change hospital practices and educate health care providers and the public on the benefits of breast milk, and provides lessons learned from these efforts to make breastfeeding the normative and usual method of infant feeding in New York City.
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