Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The trouble with growing-up milk

Since the Milk Code (EO 51) was passed in 1986, milk manufacturers have created milk products for older infants and children, presumably to avoid getting labeled as "breastmilk substitutes". Nowadays, there's milk for babies from 6 months onwards, from 1 year, 3 years, preschool-age, school-age, children who are hard to feed, etc. There's milk even for adults -- pregnant women, lactating women, diabetics and seniors! As pediatrician and breastfeeding advocate, Dr. Jack Newman, says, "We will all soon be on formula from birth to death."
The trouble with marketing these other milk products, albeit they are for children and not infants, is that they tend to create the notion in the public's mind that powdered milk is an ideal food for children. Mothers tend to go by brand names. Mothers in lower-income communities, especially, do not distinguish between powdered milk for infants, toddlers, children, etc. So when their budget gets too tight to buy infant formula, they easily switch to cheaper brands of powdered milk that are made for older children or even adults.

So marketing milk for older children seems to have the net effect of promoting powdered milk for young infants and babies as well. This image we scanned from a parenting magazine shows the promotional activities for Bonakid, a milk product supposedly for preschool-age kids. But look at the babies who are being brought to these events -- the photo clearly shows infants who should still be breastfeeding. Other photos on this spread show similar very young children and their parents participating in these events. This is a blatant violation of the Milk Code, which states that:

"Manufacturers and distributors shall not be permitted to give, directly or indirectly, samples and supplies of products within the scope of this Code or gifts of any sort to any member of the general public..." (Sec 6.b); and,

"Manufacturers and distributors shall not distribute to pregnant women or mothers of infants any gifts or articles or utensils which may promote the use of breastmilk substitutes or bottle feeding...." (Sec 6.d).

It's sad that those who have the power to ensure the strict implementation of the Milk Code do not see the trouble with "growing up" milk.
Photo: Scanned from "Mommy Academy Your Parenting Partner: Traditions Issue," p. 45.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Support from Italy!

From Ines Fernandez, convenor, Save Babies Coalition, and Executive Director, Arugaan (NGO):

We have just learned that MAMI (Movimento Allattamento Materno Italiano), the Italian WABA association, and AICPAM (Associazione Italiana Consulenti Professionali prl'Allattamento Materno), the Italian Lactation Consultants Association, have agreed to express their support to our struggle against the milk companies.

We are not afraid of them. We continue to stage people's action in many creative ways despite the media block. We got only minimal press coverage even though we have attractive visual media impact. In fact almost all the media photographers and field reporters were present in our staged public events such as the 1000 slogans painted in umbrellas by 1000 breastfeeding defenders, intergenerational plea by 18 parents and 9 children marching in front of the Supreme Court to file our legal protest, and the March for justice by victims of bottlefeeding - 150 mothers and babies in front of the milk companies with loud angry banners exposing milk companies marketing deception.

Thank you to the Italian community for their support. We have here a staunch advocate of the breastfeeding who is generously supportive of our coalition building efforts. He is an Italian married to a Filipina nurse. He works at WHO Manila. The present leadership of WHO is committed genuinely for breastfeeding and very supportive of us in many kind ways with our coalition building to save babies. Likewise with UNICEF Manila leaders they also provide us with material resources when we stage public events.

We are very grateful from the bottom of our hearts, Gracie.

About the photo: Mothers decorated and displayed advocacy umbrellas during the People's Forum on Breastfeeding held in Quezon City, Philippines, in 2006. Photo @UNICEF/PHI/2006/Albert Garcia

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Milk Code Violations

Infant formula companies claim to support breastfeeding and implementation of the Milk Code (EO 51). But data from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) show that they have been violating the Milk Code.

From July 2001 to December 2004, a total of 63 violations of the Milk Code were recorded:
* The most common violation was the distribution of print ads without approval by the Inter-agency Committee (43% of violations)
* The number of violations increased from 11 in 2003 to 19 in 2004.
* The highest number of violations recorded was in 2002, with 22 violations.
* Other types of violations included: using the health care system to promote breastmilk substitutes; improper use of materials; product display; giving gifts of any sort to the public; giving samples to the public; putting up streamers in conventions; publishing print ads of infant formula; putting a false cover on magazines; and, raffle promo.

Unfortunately, I only have data up to 2004. It would be interesting to see the data up to present. Did the situation improve or worsen with the issuance of an indefinite temporary restraining order on the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Milk Code?

I can't wait until we are able to screen the documentary on Milk Code violations entitled "Formula for Disaster" (see my boss's post below). When I first saw it, I was enraged to see so many mothers in urban and rural poor communities completely convinced that powdered milk will make their babies healthier and smarter. Midwives and barangay health workers themselves sound like sales representatives for milk companies, touting the beneficial ingredients of this or that product.

It must be good business to sell powdered milk to the poor, who can ill afford them, much less the additional health costs that they will incur. I wish the milk company executives would visit these communities and see the dismal conditions in which their products are being prepared, and the disastrous results on children -- malnutrition, sickness, death.

Promoting powdered milk to these families should be considered downright criminal and immoral.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Breastfeed all together now!

Children for Breastfeeding and DSWD Launches Sabay-sabay, Sumuso sa Nanay Year 2

Children for Breastfeeding, Inc., and Department of Social Welfare andDevelopment (DSWD) in cooperation with Technical Education and SkillsDevelopment Authority (TESDA) and TESDA Women's Center invite you to the official launching of Sabay-sabay, Sumuso sa Nanay Year 2. With the theme: Uso ang Magpasuso! (Abreast with the Times), this year's event will create the first Guinness World Record on Simultaneous Breastfeeding in Multiple Sites.

The launch will be held on April 11, 2007, Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. at the Tandang Sora Hall, TESDA Women's Center. DSWD Secretary Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral, TESDA Director General Secretary Augusto "Boboy" Syjuco, Dr. Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra, Director, Children for Breastfeeding and TESDA Women's Center Executive Director Cecile B.Gutierrez will sign a Memorandum of Agreement to stage the event.

Conceptualized and organized by Nurturers of the Earth, the affair and the simultaneous breastfeeding will feature mothers and their children who will join the national prayer of thanksgiving for motherhood and breastfeedingon May 2, 10:00 a.m. in more than 40,000 daycare centers nationwide.

World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health and should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods using indigenous foods while breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or beyond.

Listen to how mothers who are committed to follow this recommendation share their stories:

  • Dr. Belen Dofitas, a dermatologist, traveled to London as a Cochrane research scholar and returned to breastfeeding her four-year old son after three months of absence. She and her son will be in Banaue, Ifugao on May 2w here she will serve in a medical mission.

  • Mary Jane Guinto delivered her third child and was advised by her doctors not to breastfeed to stop the enlargement of a brain tumor. She underwent natural healing, delivered her baby safely and is now breastfeeding.

  • Nuriza Bungubung, businesswoman, former Miss Maja Philippines, board memberof Children for Breastfeeding, Inc., is 6 months pregnant with her secondc hild and she is still breastfeeding her three-year-old child. This is her second time to join Sabay-sabay, Sumuso sa Nanay.

  • Pamela Yap-Magallon, is an event organizer and a board member of Nurturers of the Earth, Inc. She breastfeeds her 2-year-old daughter despite her demanding schedule and breastfed her first child until 3.5 years old and gave him expressed breastmilk until he was six years old.

Last year, Children for Breastfeeding in partnership with the City of Manila broke the Guinness World Record on Simultaneous Breastfeeding in a Single Site when they gathered 3,541 mothers at San Andres Sports Complex and Civic Center in Malate, Manila. In cooperation with Nurturers of theEarth, UNICEF and the Department of Health, they broke the USA record of 1,130 mothers in Berkeley, California.

Contributed by:

Nona D. Andaya-Castillo, IBCLC

Director, Nurturers of the Earth, Inc.

0919-839-5555, 889-1105, 4444-716

About the photo: Over 3,000 mothers breastfed simultaeneously in Manila, setting a new Guinness Book world record. @ UNICEF/PHI/2006/Mike Alquinto

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Coming Soon: Formula for Disaster

UNICEF will very shortly release its new documentary film called "Formula for Disaster" (photo above was grabbed from the documentary) about National Milk Code (EO51) violations by powdered milk companies in the Philippines. The film offers a shocking catalog of shameless violations which show how the health system has been completely taken over by these companies.

As an American citizen I wanted to let people know that a lot of Western countries are now rediscovering the many benefits of breastfeeding. Its so ironic that the Philippines is going in the opposite direction! In fact, many highly educated American mothers are now informing themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and making sure they are able to breastfeed their young children as long as possible. The US Government has also embarked on an intensive campaign to help educate mothers about breastfeeding. Readers of this blog might be interested to see how the US Government is promoting breastfeeding by visiting this site:

In addition this URL from the American Academy of Family Physicians contains very useful information about the relative risks of infant formula feeding versus breastfeeding:

And this URL from the American Academy of Pediatrics is also useful:

The Philippines Department of Health, WHO and UNICEF are hoping that more and more Filipina mothers will arm themselves with information and insist that their doctors and midwives provide every possible support to exclusive breastfeeding. Please become an advocate! The health of millions of Filipino children is at stake!

Dale Rutstein, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines