Public Citizen Commends Indiana Group’s Breastfeeding Promotion Activities
Indiana State Breastfeeding Coalition Provides Lactation Stations and Urges Healthcare Facilities to Stop Marketing Infant Formula
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, the Indiana State Breastfeeding Coalition (ISBC) is offering two lactation stations at the Indiana State Fair where mothers can breastfeed in a clean, comfortable place. The stations have been provided for the past five years, serving more than 25,000 mothers and families each year. Today at 1 p.m. at the main lactation station, Dr. Gregory Larkin, the Indiana State Health Commissioner, will issue a Governor’s Proclamation declaring August to be Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Indiana.
The project is part of a larger effort by ISBC to normalize and promote breastfeeding in our society. ISBC also is participating in Public Citizen’s campaign to stop infant formula marketing in healthcare facilities. In April, Public Citizen sent letters to 2,600 hospitals nationwide, including 85 in Indiana, calling on them to stop distributing industry-sponsored discharge bags containing infant formula samples to new mothers. More than 100 organizations, including ISBC, signed on to the letter.
“ISBC has made it a top priority for this coming year to advocate for the elimination of infant formula marketing in hospitals,” said Dane Nutty, community outreach chair for ISBC. “We hope that these efforts will help increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, and improve the health of the community overall.”
Marketing infant formula in healthcare facilities undermines public health and violates the 1981 World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which states that healthcare facilities should not be used for the marketing of infant formula. Two-thirds of U.S. hospitals continue to distribute commercial discharge bags despite the WHO code.
Research has shown that mothers who receive infant formula samples are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and are more likely to breastfeed for shorter durations.
“We recognize that infant formula marketing is not in the best interest of moms and babies in Indiana,” said Tina Cardarelli, Indiana state breastfeeding coordinator with the Indiana Perinatal Network. “We hope that through the work of local residents and with the help of organizations like Public Citizen, we can promote policy change to eliminate this practice and help improve breastfeeding success throughout our state.”
Recently, Massachusetts became the second state to have all of its maternity facilities voluntarily stop distributing infant formula discharge bags to new mothers. It followed Rhode Island, where all hospitals stopped this practice in 2011. New York City also has launched a program that will eliminate formula marketing from the majority of its hospitals.
“We hope that Indiana will soon follow the lead of Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” said Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert project. “Public Citizen commends the ISBC for its efforts to promote breastfeeding in the state of Indiana. We urge Indiana hospitals to support new mothers and their families by stopping the distribution of formula-industry discharge bags.”
To learn more, visit https://www.citizen.org/our-work/health-and-safety/infant-formula-marketing.
For more information on the ISBC’s Lactation Stations, visit www.indianastands.org.