by Kristina Rasmussen
Not content to limit the soda sipping habits of adults, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is asking hospitals to hide infant formula from new moms and hungry babies. From CBS News:
Going into effect on September 3, New York City's mayor will implement his voluntary Latch On NYC initiative in which infant formula will be kept locked away at hospitals to encourage breast-feeding for new mothers.
Under the new program, reported by the New York Post, mothers who insist on bottle-feeding will still be able to do so, but nurses would have to sign out the baby formula, which would always be on hand for mothers who have difficulty breast-feeding.
This idea of limiting access to formula isn't a new one. The Illinois Department of Human Services collaborated on the release of the Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint last year, which recommended the reduced dissemination of hospital formula gift packs.
If Mayor Bloomberg wants to encourage breastfeeding, he can
do far better than locking up infant formula in the hospital closet. He should
ask his policy-making friends in DC to stop handing out government-subsidized
formula to aid beneficiaries unless there is a clear medical need for it.
Here's my take on the crazy contradiction inherent in government breastfeeding policy from a 2011 DeKalb Daily Chronicle commentary:
...State government spends a lot of money enabling moms to not breast-feed. How? By subsidizing the purchase of infant formula, which displaces breast milk.
In 2009, Illinois issued more than 12.5 million WIC food coupons, many of which went toward free or reduced-price formula. The Illinois Department of Human Services’ website includes a color brochure where the reader’s eye is drawn away from the reminder that “breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby” to the glossy formula brand logos and product graphics splashed along the bottom of the page. Program enrollees are gleefully informed: “We also have Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL and Enfamil AR LIPIL!” Talk about mixed messages.
According to state budget performance measures, only one out of every four WIC mothers continued to breast-feed their babies at six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding exclusively for the six months and support for breast-feeding for the first year and beyond.
There’s an odd contradiction between government exhorting moms to breast-feed and then turning around and providing free formula to the same mothers.
Carrie Lukas, managing director of Independent Women's Forum (and a breastfeeding mom herself), had a great commentary in the WSJ this week. Here's how it boils down:
Micromanagement is not an appropriate use of government power, and it's an insult to a free people. Mr. Bloomberg and other meddlesome politicians should leave parenting to parents.
The World Health Organization says “virtually all mothers
can breastfeed.” Let's stop inserting government between mother and child.