In January I reported on a Massachusetts Coalition who were asking hospitals to voluntarily stop providing new moms with “sample formula bags”.
Since January, other states have also followed Massachusetts’s lead and banned the gift bag.
An increasing number of hospitals across the U.S. in an effort to promote breast-feeding are banning free gift bags that contain samples of infant formula, which often are given to women when they leave the hospital after delivery, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, critics of the gift bags say they discourage women from breast-feeding and represent an endorsement of formula-feeding by health professionals. A 2006 Government Accountability Office report found that a majority of studies it reviewed found lower breast-feeding rates among women who received the gift bags; a 1992 study in the journal Pediatrics found that women who received a breast pump in discharge bags breast-fed for longer than women who received formula; and a 1998 report in the Journal of Human Lactation found that black women receiving government food assistance who got formula samples were nearly six times less likely to breast-feed seven to 10 days after birth than other women.
Legislation that would ban the gift bags has been proposed in several states — including California, Massachusetts and Texas — but it has have “repeatedly failed” to pass, the Journal reports. Some advocates of breast-feeding are focusing their efforts to ban the gift bags at individual hospitals rather than backing legislation, according to the Journal. Although only a small number of hospitals have banned the giveaways, Kaiser Permanente stopped distributing formula samples at its 19 facilities in 2005, and other facilities such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Winchester Hospital and Berkshire Medical Center recently have instituted bans.
I am really proud of this Coalition and all of their accomplishments. The fact that the legislation didn’t pass probably had something to do with the financial clout that pharmaceutical companies have. Let’s hope that these groups press on and make more headway.
It would be nice if they could arrange for new mom to receive a breast pump in lieu of the formula.