The American Academy of Pediatrics states that "human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants...and the immunity factors in breast milk can help the baby fight off some infections." But only about 25 percent of American women will breastfeed their infant in the first crucial six months of development. Several reasons are cited to explain this discouraging statistic, and it may also be due to the aggresive and unethical marketing campaigns carried out by several large corporations that manufacture baby formula.
Artificial milk can harm babies because it does not contain the natural antibodies which a mother's milk provides. This is one of the main reasons why the World Health Association and UNICEF adopted an International Code of Marketing Breast milk Substitutes in 1981 to protect newborns and educate mothers in the benefits of breastfeeding and the dangers of bottle feeding.
To get mothers to buy their product, baby formula producers and baby milk companies must persuade health workers and mothers to bottle feed their infants. To increase profits, these companies market their products contrary to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Rather than heed this code, companies such as Nestlé still aggressively promote its formula feed. According to Nestlé's website, it does no such thing.
Nestlé, along with being one of the world's most well-known brands, is also the most disliked. London's [The Guardian] reported September 1, 2005 that an opinion poll surveyed over 15,000 consumers in 17 countries and found Nestle as the most boycotted brand due to its "unethical use and promotion of formula feed for babies in third world countries." But according to Nestlé's website, the boycott is a non-issue.
Nestlé has violated World Health Assembly (WHO) marketing requirements and has now been boycotted in 20 countries because it aggressively markets baby foods, thus contributing to the suffering and possible death of millions of infants throughout the world.
According to [UNICEF], "marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute." Because Nestlé is the world's largest artificial baby milk producer, it is the leading cause of this tragedy.
Nestle says, again on its website, that it helps babies in developing countries. In reality, formula must be mixed with water and in third world countries the water can harm or even kill a child. Babies also need immune-boosting properties of mother's milk; in developing countries infant formula alone could cause death. And babies have no boundaries: they need the same nutritional requirements for healthy development in the U.S just as they do in any other country.
Clearly, the formula industry has its interests first and foremost.
[ Pediatrics], December 2005, reports that recent studies in two U.S. community health centers have determined that women need more support and education if they are going to persevere with breastfeeding. Needless to say, this report will not bode well with companies such as Nestle.