Jones & Bartlett Learning Blog

    MA Bans Infant Formula Bags: Promotes Breastfeeding

    Posted by Katie Hennessy on Jul 23, 2012 4:51:47 PM

    Earlier this month, Massachusetts became the second US state to ban infant formula gift bags. Dr. Lauren Smith, Medical Director of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told that, “We applaud the effort of all of the hospitals to make this explicit statement of their support of breastfeeding here in the Commonwealth.”

    According to the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition,

    “In 2005, nearly all maternity facilities in the state were giving out discharge bags from formula companies. The marketing technique is particularly effective in lowering breastfeeding rates in part because of the implied endorsement of the hospital and health professionals. The bags often come with a requirement that hospitals get their formula for free, which contributes greatly to unnecessary use of formula by breastfeeding mothers. Research has consistently shown that such use is one of the strongest predictors of early breastfeeding failure— with a resultant increase in formula sales.”

    Last fall, UMass Memorial Medical Center decided to stop distributing formula bags due to institutional pressure to avoid corporate marketing on hospital materials. Dr. Ellen Delpapa, Medical Director, Labor and Delivery told that, “We now give women a free canvas bag with our hospital ­logo, but it doesn’t have anything in it. So far, we’ve had no complaints; no one has missed the formula.”

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months to provide babies with protection against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and allergies. Breastfed babies also have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome and a reduced likelihood for obesity.

    Massachusetts currently has four Baby-Friendly hospitals including Boston Medical Center, The Cambridge Birth Center, Tobey Hospital in Wareham, and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Awarded by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, Baby-Friendly hospitals actively promote the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding by:

    • Having a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff
    • Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy
    • Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding
    • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
    • Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants
    • Giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated
    • Practicing “rooming in” that allows mothers and infants to remain together 24-hours a day
    • Encouraging breastfeeding on demand
    • Giving no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
    • Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and referring mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

    Ten Steps to Successful BreastfeedingJones & Bartlett Learning is committed to promoting successful breastfeeding. Created specifically to support the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States, Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding is an essential course for educating staff to promote successful breastfeeding. Structured in 5 modules, this online course earns 24.4 CEUs for nurses and 24.4 L-CERPs for lactation consultants, which can be completed 24-hours a day. Interspersed throughout are new assessments that measure understanding of the subject matter. After completing the course, users can print out a completion transcript that certifies the earned CEUs.

    For more information and to preview the course, visit

    Topics: ceu, l-cerp, baby-friendly, breastfeeding, continuing education unit, lactation, lactation consultant, nursing, Online Learning, world health organization

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