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Sullivan champions breastfeeding

Trump administration sides with formula companies

MONTICELLO, NY — Officials in Sullivan County have been promoting breastfeeding for infants as generally the healthiest option for babies. On June 27, the county issued a press release lauding the rate of breastfeeding of mothers and children enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The release said, “The 2016 rate for Sullivan County mothers enrolled in WIC who were exclusively breastfeeding their infants at 6 months of age was 18.2% compared to the state rate of 10.5%.”

The county also said that the rate of breastfeeding of WIC mothers overall climbed 33% over a five-year period, which is a desired result because of health outcomes. The release said, “Research shows that breast milk provides unique nutrients and antibodies that help protect babies from diseases such as ear infections, lower respiratory infections and diarrhea, and decrease the risk for asthma, diabetes and obesity later in life. For women, breastfeeding lowers their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes.

“Exclusive breastfeeding is a public health priority and a goal of the New York State Prevention Agenda, the blueprint for state and local action to improve the health of all New Yorkers.”

Breastfeeding, however, is not seen as such a high priority by the administration of President Donald Trump. In a story that was picked up by multiple news outlets, The New York Times reported on July 8, (tinyurl.com/yc32f6gt) that a member of the United State delegation to the World Health Assembly, which is affiliated with the United Nations, scuttled a resolution saying that mothers should try to make use of breastfeeding when possible, because mother’s milk is the healthiest option for children.

The story reported that, “The United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.”

First, U.S. representatives tried to weaken the resolution by removing language that urged governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding,” and they also sought to remove language that warned officials not to promote food options for children that might be harmful.

According to the story, that attempt failed, and the American officials then threatened retaliation against Ecuador, the country that had expected to introduce the resolution. Again, quoting from the Times, “The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.”

No other country could then be found to introduce the resolution, until the Russian delegation stepped in to intoduce it.  The U.S. then accepted it without the changes it had sought.

 

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