The formula vs. breastfeeding debate is being stirred up yet again, if it ever settled.
New research by the World Health Organization (WHO), published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, found that formula advertising can "dramatically reduce breastfeeding rates."
In the Philippines around 60 per cent of moms who recalled seeing adverts for formula made them twice as likely to bottle feed their babies than those who didn't see the ads.
According to WHO, rates of exclusive breastfeeding of babies up to four months of age "dropped to 40 per cent in 2008 from about 47 per cent in 1998."
The research follows intense criticism of hospitals in developed countries doling out free formula samples to new moms, thus promoting formula feeding.
The issue is obviously even more critical in developing nations, where bottle feeding has been linked to higher rates of infant deaths and health complications. (The water used to mix with formula can be contaminated or in some cases mothers use insufficient powder in order to make supplies last longer.)
In 2007, formula manufacturers fought (and won) the right to advertise in developing countries like the Philippines, in spite of the health risks it clearly poses to babies.
Should formula advertisements be banned in the developing countries, or for that matter outright?