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Stop marketing practices which commercialise infant feeding and threaten breastfeeding.

Comment 4th February 2016


To Protect Breastfeding and to protect babies fed on formula, enabling mothers to care for their babies in an environment which is free from commercial pressure.


This aim can be achieved by bringing UK and European legislation into line with the International Code and subsequent relevant WHA Resolutions.  This will help parents base their decisions about infant feeding on truly independent evidence-based information. 


Its key points are: 

• No promotion of breastmilk substitutes, bottles etc. 

• No free samples or gifts to mothers. 

• Information materials and labels must warn of the risks of artificial feeding and information must not idealise  artificial feeding or discourage breastfeeding. 

• Information materials and labels should warn that powdered infant formula may contain harmful bacteria. 

• No free or low-cost supplies of breastmilk substitutes. 

• No promotion in health care facilities or gifts to health workers (samples for evaluation only). 

• Product information must be limited to factual and scientific information for health workers. 

• No sales incentives for staff or contact with mothers. 

• No promotion of ANY product targeting babies under six months. Complementary foods should not be marketed in ways that undermine breastfeeding. 

  • Governments must provide objective information on infant feeding, avoiding conflicts of interest in funding infant feeding programmes. 


For more info

Why does this matter?


Advertising and promotion of Formula milk and other breastmilk substitutes is very effective, reaching mothers through; 


  • The NHS through hospitals, community services, surgeries and Pharmacies. 


  • Help for mothers through care lines or internet clubs


  • Formula company reps providing seminars, parenting or other classes for parents and parents to be.


  • Health workers are targeted through training in universities, healthworker 'clubs' and continual professional development. Advertisements in their journals, Exhibitions at conferences  

Donations / sponsorship of equipment and recourses


  • Advertisements on Television, on the internet and in printed materials (These often bypass UK laws by cross advertising milk for older children.)


Even marketing by such companies which does not refer to infant feeding undermines breastfeeding by painting a picture of life with a baby with is not achievable when breastfeeding 


More examples:


The government barely scratches the surface in countering the tremendous resources of formula companies, and the influence of their marketing. The result is that the government and society pays in poor health. 


Artificially fed babies are at greater risk of: 

  • gastro-intestinal infection
  • respiratory infections
  • necrotising enterocolitis
  • urinary tract infections
  • ear infections
  • allergic disease (eczema and wheezing)
  • insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • childhood leukaemia.

and breastfed babies may have better:

  • neurological development.

Other studies of health and breastfeeding: 

  • Cardiovascular disease in later life
  • Breastfeeding, bed sharing and cot death
  • Breastfeeding and HIV transmission
  • Breastfeeding and dental health

Women who have breastfed are at lower risk of: 

  • breast cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • hip fractures and bone density.

Breastfeeding may also provide protection against (more research needed):
for the infant

  • multiple sclerosis 
  • acute appendicitis
  • tonsillectomy

for the mother 

  • rheumatoid arthritis.
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