(Violation of the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes: prevalence in four countries)
In a paper published in this week's BMJ, Anna Taylor, on behalf of the Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring, reveals that baby milk manufacturers are breaking the international code of marketing breast milk substitutes, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981.
The code was introduced to encourage mothers to breast feed their babies, in an attempt to prevent 1.5 million needless infant deaths each year and to protect mothers from pressure to use substitute breast milk. Taylor's study is the first of its kind and covered cities in Bangladesh, Poland, South Africa and Thailand. The author found that baby milk manufacturers violate the code by continuing to send free gifts to mothers or indirectly apply marketing pressure through free gifts or samples to health workers.
Taylor concludes that unless there is a commitment to enforce and monitor the World Health Assembly code nationally, breast feeding will not be protected from the commercial pressures from substitute manufacturers.
Professor Andrew Tomkins, Centre for International Child Health, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com