Mexico Bans Free Formula in Hospitals to Push Breastfeeding

A woman breastfeeds a baby in the framework of the World Breastfeeding Week in Cancun, Mexico, Aug. 4, 2015 (PHOTO: Xinhua/Francisco Galvez/IANS)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government says it will no longer allow giveaways of baby formula at hospitals and clinics in a bid to boost low breast-feeding rates.

The federal health risks oversight agency said Tuesday that anyone can still buy formula at stores, and it can be supplied at a doctor’s request or for research purposes.

But the agency argued that free samples must be excluded from private and public hospitals “because it is a commercial practice that may discourage breast-feeding.”

Only one in seven mothers in Mexico breast-feeds exclusively in the first six months, as the World Health Organization recommends. Mexico’s rate is among the lowest in Latin America.

Mother’s milk is richer than formula in nutrients and antibodies that protect newborns from infections.

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