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U.S. threatens nations over world breastfeeding resolution, shocking health officials

Trump administration threatened Ecuador over its support of breastfeeding resolution

The United States pressured other countries to stop a resolution that promoted breastfeeding at the United Nations, according to the New York Times.

American officials only agreed to the resolution in Geneva when Russian Federation threw its support behind the resolution. Formula manufacturers' largest profits now come from developing countries, a trend the World Health Assembly's resolution hoped to combat.

The U.S. representatives were also unsuccessful affecting any real changes to statements on breast milk substitutes.

Breastfeeding remains the gold standard for infant nutrition across the world. Starting infants out on a substitute in a maternity ward can make breastfeeding more hard for mothers later. They also imply in their advertising that breastfeeding is what poor women do who don't know better.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, the lead agency in negotiations on the resolution, defended the USA opposition to the measure, saying that it would impede women's access to vital baby formula when breastfeeding is not an option.

The US State Department has refused to comment on the report. "We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons". The resolution was expected to pass easily, but USA delegates aimed to remove language that encouraged countries to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding" in an alleged alignment with baby formula manufacturers. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty", Trump tweeted Monday.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman told the Times the initial version of the resolution "placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition for their children". Despite having one of the lowest breastfeeding initiation rates among industrialized countries - it ranked 26th, according to the latest available data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - breastfeeding rates in the USA improved nationwide and in almost every state between 2007 and 2016, according to the latest available CDC data.

"I don't think people thought about it very much", she said, "that... marketing could lead people to the extent... that you would actually have babies dying". "Neither is the availability of infant formula", said Sullivan.

"It is often sold over the counter - or in emergencies distributed as blanket donations - as if it's as safe as breastmilk, when that is not the case", she said. Millions of infants have safely consumed formula for decades.

Many American women agree, saying the cultural mandate to breastfeed no matter their personal circumstances and zealous hospital lactation programs is another example of how women's bodies are not their own to manage. According to UNICEF, "an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child". In 2018, it grew 4%, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

World Health Organization has long supported breastfeeding, and years of research has found breast milk to be healthier than other substitutes.

"There are major political, economic and social factors that shape breastfeeding patterns in global settings", Palmquist said.

But research has long shown that breastfeeding is the best way to nourish an infant, boost their immune system, prevent them from being sick or becoming overweight or obese and forge bonding between mother and child. So it's terribly important that they're marketed properly, and that's what WHO and all the health community want to happen.