Breast not best?

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Aggressive
advertising for infant formula may be responsible for a new low in
the percentage of Chinese mothers who exclusively breastfeed. A
report by the China’s Consumer Association indicated that as much
as 14 percent of new mothers in China do not breastfeed at all. The
survey, conducted in 30 Chinese cities, found that almost a third of
babies were fed a mixture of breast milk and infant formula, and
these statistics were believed to be influenced by the insistent
advertising of formula companies who claimed their product was highly
beneficial to brain development in babies. As many as 57 percent of
mothers were willing to buy formula based on that knowledge alone.

The
Association’s report also reveals that formula companies are
pushing the boundaries of legal advertising. Chinese consumer
protection regulations state that claiming or even hinting that
formula could be an adequate replacement for breast milk is illegal,
yet companies regularly flout these rules by creating furtive
campaigns to lure parents, including giveaways, strategic
product-placement and baby-health hotlines that support infant
formula.

Recommendations
from doctors are also thought to have contributed to the rise in
China’s formula use. Despite laws preventing the feeding of formula
to babies in Chinese hospitals, the report also stated that up to 63
percent receive it anyway, and a doctor’s recommendation is usually
respected and followed by parents.

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