- Nestlé's direct marketing to mothers
new book (background picture): In October 1999 Nestlé
started mailing out a book called Nestlé
implementation of the WHO Code, having conducted global
"monitoring". Nestlé claims it does nothing
Philippines: Nestlé's book claims the Philippines
as a country where it complies with the Code, yet the letter
published acknowledges that violations have been reported.
These include Nestlé's "Health Educators"
(pictured) who have
been found promoting Nestogen infant formula to mothers
in the community. While Nestlé denies that its staff
have direct contact with mothers, the Nestlé
Philippines website refers to its "education
on nutrition for village mothers".
In addition, Dickie
Sorian, OgilvyOne Manila, told BusinessWorld: "When we
designed Nestlé's infant nutrition program, we made full
use of direct marketing insights and breakthroughs that are now
reshaping the way we market brands as well as the relationships
between consumers and brand." OgilvyOne received three industry
awards for this work in September 1999.
direct marketing in Hungary (envelope
pictured): Direct marketing to mothers is specifically banned
by Article 5.5 of the
International Code. Yet this pack was sent to the breastfeeding
mother of a five-month old child in Hungary, after Nestlé
took her details from the birth registry. Free samples of follow-on
formula in the pack have come from Denmark and break the requirements
of the European Union Export Directive for these products. Nestlé's
new book does not mention Hungary despite its operations there
'Parents Club' in Denmark: Nestlé received an award
in 1997 from Direct Response magazine for its success in countering
the Danish breastfeeding promotion campaign through its Parents
Club promotion (leaflet pictured
- also see Boycott News 21).
Nestlé has been informed by the Danish authorities that
a mailing broke the law - its appeal against this decision is
pending. The letter from Denmark in Nestlé's new book is
not the endorsement Nestlé claims it to be (see below).
You can help to stop
these violations. See the Campaign
for Ethical Marketing.
- joining East and West
Participants from 33
countries (30 in Europe) took part in the IBFAN Europe Regional
Planning Meeting in Gteborg, Sweden from 16-19th October. Over
half the groups are from countries outside the European Union,
the result of concerted networking and NGO Capacity Building efforts
by the IBFAN Europe Coordinating Office, with the support of Baby
IBFAN is 20 years
20 years of IBFAN - the global network now consists of over 150
groups. The regional meeting sets policy and appoints coordinators
for the IBFAN Europe region. Coordinators will attend the IBFAN
Coordinating Council to formulate global policy.
new Georgian Law
Professor Ketevan Nemsadeze
of the Georgian IBFAN group, CLARITAS, informed participants that
on 9th September the Georgian Government fully implemented the
International Code and Resolutions in the face of opposition from
the baby food industry. "We thank the people and organisations
around the world who sent letters of support," she said.
"This helped us in our work." International support,
from the public as well as Members of the European Parliament
and UN organisations, can be vital. Baby Milk Action sent out
a call for support in August using its Campaign
for Ethical Marketing action sheet.
Tragic death of Swedish
A candle was burning
during the meeting for Bjrn Sderberg, a Director of the Swedish
IBFAN group, NAFIA. Bjrn was murdered on his doorstep by right-wing
extremists shortly before the meeting. We send our condolences
to Bjrn's relatives and colleagues.
Also see Boycott News
26 - Bulgaria launches boycott.
Danes 'surprised' by Nestlé's
Baby Milk Action asked Bente
Koch of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration if she was
aware that Nestlé would use a letter from her in its new
book: Nestlé implementation of the WHO Code: Official
Response of Governments. The letter has also been published
on the Internet. She said:
"We are very surprised.
We had the impression that Nestlé would use the letter
in connection with export of infant formulas to countries outside
the EU in order to inform about the fact that Denmark had implemented
the Commission's Directives."
Asked if the letter was "official
verification of Nestlé's compliance" as Nestlé
claims, she explained:
"It is the responsibility
of the marketer or distributor to ensure their marketing is
in accordance with Danish Regulations. We never certify that
a producer is marketing in accordance with the Danish Regulations.
We have only given a description of the system."
Nestlé fined for
breaking Czech Law
Nestlé's new book
does not include any information about the Czech Republic, even
though Nestlé has operations there. Could this be because
Nestlé's new policy of "openness" does not extend
to admitting it has broken the law? In July 1998 Prague Trade
Department took up a case against Nestlé for producing
a poster promoting Nestlé complementary foods for use from
4 months of age and for a promotional campaign using a calendar
distributed to maternity hospitals. Nestlé reportedly received
the maximum possible fine in July 1999. We hope that Nestlé
will acknowledge the seriousness of the judgement against it and
ensure its activities are corrected.
The National Childbirth Trust
has released its response to Nestlé's new book. It states:
"The NCT is pleased
you feel you are making progress in starting to comply with
the WHO code on the marketing of Breast Milk substitutes in
other countries. However on a close examination of your enclosed
report the evidence that you are complying is unconvincing...
It is clear that formula promotion is still depressing breastfeeding
The NCT calls for unbranded
tins, strict control on promotion in line with the Code and for
mothers to be advised by health care professional rather than
Nestlé has been
mass mailing the 180-page book Nestlé implementation
of the WHO Code to journalists, organisations, MPs and individuals.
This follows the Advertising
Standards Authority ruling against Nestlé and a wave
of critical media coverage and public protests in the UK (see
Boycott News 26). In the
book Nestlé publishes letters from government officials
from a number of countries. Baby Milk Action only received a copy
of the book after writing to Nestlé's Chairman. A
detailed analysis has been prepared. While we welcome Nestlé's
admission that it needs to do more to monitor its activities,
- Nestlé concludes
that it is doing nothing wrong despite the many violations reported
to it by governments, IBFAN and others. In 1998 WHO called on
companies to "respond promptly to correct all the violations
that are reported."
- In May 1999 Nestlé's
Assistant Vice President, Niels Christiansen, claimed that over
70 governments had verified Nestlé's compliance and there
were question marks in only three cases. Yet in October '99
Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck, said: "We now have 54
countries verifying our compliance, with only one government
writing to say that we don't follow the Code."
- Nestlé states
that the countries represented in the book account for "over
half our infant formula sales in developing countries".
What about the other countries where Nestlé has operations?
Why are critical responses from countries such as Samoa and
South Africa not included?
- In some cases it
is bizarre that Nestlé suggests that the statement
"verifies Nestlé compliance." For example, the
letter from the Ministry of Health in the Cook Islands states:
"I have not noticed any of their products being sold
- Only six of the
statements refer to monitoring or something similar conducted
by the authority providing the statement - and three of these
note violations were found or reported.
- A further five
statements suggest concern about violations.
- A quarter of the
statements relate only to materials or information Nestlé
presented to the government authority.
- Many statements
appear to be a standard form of words, presumably suggested
- Many statements
include expressions such as "to the best of my knowledge..."
- Nestlé claims
that it conducts international audits. Why hasn't it published
the reports resulting from these? Will Nestlé accept
independent auditing of its activities?
to strengthen EU legislation
The new European Commission,
appointed in September, has promised more power to MEPs, better
consumer protection, and that its activities will be transparent.
Below we examine what this might mean for infant health.
The lobby for strong controls
on baby food marketing in Europe has been in process for decades
and has involved thousands of NGOs, parliamentarians, policy makers
and health workers worldwide. The European Commission has, more
often than not, argued in favour of the baby food companies based
in Europe - who naturally seek to expand the market for European
products. However, because of the strength of our campaign, in
1986 and in 1991, the Commission agreed to make some of important
changes in favour of health. But they did not do everything that
was needed. The result is European legislation which is limited
in scope and full of loopholes. The challenge now is to bring
the legislation into line with the World Health Assembly Resolutions
- which all EU member states consistently endorse.
What does transparency
For consumers to have
confidence in government decisions it is vital that policy makers
have access to truly independent advice and that any commercial
influences are out in the open. The safety of British beef has
dominated the UK news recently and much weight has been placed
on the Scientific Committees who advise the European Commission.
One of the Committees - the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF)
- had an important influence on baby food safety and marketing
controls yet the links between some of its members and the food
industry are still not public.
In 1997 the 8 scientific
committees were moved from DG3 (Industry) to DG24 (Consumer and
Development) in an attempt to minimise commercial influence on
legislation. Decisions and minutes are now published
speedily on the internet. However the thorny problem of conflicts
of interest is still fudged and delayed. Annual declarations are
missing and the declarations that are published leave a lot to
be desired, giving the public no clear information. For example,
the report on the meeting on Animal Foodstuffs on 25 Jan '99 only
states: "Following a verbal declaration of interest concerning
a special relationship with a feed additive manufacturer, the
Chairman requested the member concerned to send a written declaration."
- At the IBFAN European
Regional meeting in Sweden, a letter to the new European Commissioner
for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne, was endorsed
by 54 health professional and consumer advocates from 28 countries
in Europe, CEE/CIS and the Baltic States. The letter asks the
Commission to amend the newly adopted Directive on Dietary Foods
in line with the International
Code and Resolutions.
- Cartoons useful
for explaining the Code and the EU Directives are available
on the internet at http://web.superb.net/apastras
Questions asked of the European Commission
Gleny Kinnock MEP submitted the following written questions on
27th October 1999:
- "What is
the process by which annual declarations of interest of past
and current members of the Scientific Committee for Food are
sought, submitted and published?
- What measures
will the Commission take to ensure that the Dietary Foods Directive
meets the requirements of the International Code on the marketing
of breast milk substitutes and subsequent Resolutions?
- What consultation
took place with experts on infant foods and their marketing
when formulating the Dietary Foods Directive?"
- marketing using bogus science
Unlike the International
Code, current EU legislation applies only to foods for infants
in 'good health.' The new EU Directive on Dietary Foods for
Special Medical Purposes (1999/21/EC) will apply to infants
with 'limited, impaired or disturbed capacity to take, digest...ordinary
foodstuffs.' The Directive hands to the baby food companies
just what they have been waiting for - permission to make a host
of new claims, which, although violating the International
Code, may not actually break European law.
In many countries we
are now seeing a marked increase in the promotion of specialised
formulas which claim to tackle 'problems' such as colic, crying,
vomiting and allergies. Free samples, prescription tear off slips,
internet advertising and extraordinary claims are being used,
many of them unfounded or based only on industry-funded studies.
Some claims promote new 'biological' and other ingredients, suggesting
that the new formulas match human milk. Others compare one artificial
milk to another - and simply ignore breastfeeding. Perhaps companies
want us to believe that breastfeeding is simply not an option
for sick babies.
Infatrini - a test
Will Numico's medical
claims for Infatrini (a milk for babies who fail to thrive)
be declared illegal? (See Update 25).
Baby Milk Action sent a complaint to the Ministry of Agriculture
(MAFF) in July, who sent it on to the Trading Standards Authority
(LACOTS) and to the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). Four months
later, the MCA say that because Infatrini is a food rather
than a medicine it does not fall within their remit. The case
will be taken back to LACOTS.
A few days before BBC
Watchdog featured Infatrini in August, Nutricia
(a subsidiary of Numico) mailed dieticians saying that it did
not intend to repeat the advert and that it had no objection to
"Infatrini becoming a prescription only product, but for
this to happen, current legislation would have to change." Strange
- only last year the industry was lobbying against this.
EU limits for pesticides
in baby foods were also adopted in March, but will not come fully
into effect until July 2002 (1999/50/EC). There are no set limits
on other contaminants in baby foods, so parents will remain in
the dark about levels of lead, cadmium, etc. Now it seems that
an oil in the seal of the lids of baby food jars could cause a
problem. Government tests found toxic contamination from epoxidised
soya bean oil (ESBO) in 48% of samples. Although there is no immediate
health risk, infants should not eat products with the same high
level of ESBO all the time. Companies have been asked to reduce
Hipp is aggressively
promoting its infant formulas and follow-on milks (now at
6 months) with 450g samples sent free to health visitors.
The packets (see above) carry the following claims, which
are not permitted by UK law: "free from synthetic pesticides
and chemical fertilisers...gluten free...cows are allowed
to graze naturally in meadows which are organically maintained...leading
to pure, natural milk."
GM formula - can it
Companies are applying
for patents to engineer cows to produce the whey protein in human
milk and other ingredients. To try and convince the public that
such technology results in milks which match the 'gold standard'
of breastmilk, they will certainly want to make health claims.
A mother's milk, in contrast to any genetically engineered product,
is a living substance, tailor made for her baby. Its anti-infective,
anti-viral and growth factors even now, are not fully understood,
and it can actively destroy many bacteria, viruses and parasites
- practically anything the new-born infant may confront. It is
also delivered in a uniquely safe way. Breastmilk is not on sale
or packaged and is rarely promoted in glossy brochures, so claims
which imply benefit from any artificial substitute create an imbalance
is a health claim?
claims, nutrient function claims or medical claims attribute
properties to a product or to a specific nutrient that it
can prevent, treat or cure disease. Their alleged validity
should always be challenged. Nutrient statements
(along with good clear ingredients) are quantitative and
qualitative declarations. Their accuracy can be proven by
analysis of the product. Nutrient statements can also be
promotional if they are presented in a way which implies
EU law (for infant formula for babies in good health) allows:
6 nutrient content claims: Adapted protein; Low sodium;
Sucrose free, Lactose only, Lactose free; iron enriched
and 1 nutrient function claim: a claim related to
"reduction of risk to allergy to milk proteins [which]
may include terms referring to reduced allergen or reduced
toddler foods apal allergy and health experts
Junior snacks (for babies from 12 months), promoted as
'good and nutritious,' are causing a furore among health workers
and allergy specialists in the UK (see also Boycott
News). The fruit sticks in the range are over 50% sugar (more
sugar even than Kit-Kat). The sesame sticks carry no warning that
sesame is known to be the second most serious allergen after peanuts.
Dr Martin Stern, speaking on BBC's You & Yours on 22 October,
described Nestlé's failure to acknowledge the risks of
its marketing as "an abuse of scientific knowledge. I
think that this is a marketing campaign that is laying a trap
for unwary mothers and it should not be done."
Nestle is promoting
the foods widely including through samples at Tumble Tots - young
children's play clubs. Nestlé attempts to allay parents'
fears about feeding sugary foods by saying: "You may worry
that snacks will spoil your toddler's appetite or make them fat,
but this is not generally the case..."
from the European Union
The Dutch IBFAN group,
WEMOS, reports that measures adopted by the European Union to
regulate the behaviour of baby food exporters have been broken
by a number of companies, yet no action has been taken by the
Richard Howitt MEP,
who is calling for Nestlé to be investigated through public
hearings in the European Parliament, submitted questions to the
Commission on this matter in November. The response is still awaited.
In October, Baby Milk
Action complained to the Danish Food Administration about Nestlé's
Beba 2 follow-on formula
which breaks an EU Export Directive requirement that "these
products shall be labelled... in such a way as to avoid any risk
of confusion between infant formulae and follow-on formulae."
Nestlé mailed a free sample of Beba 2 (shown right) to
the breastfeeding mother of a 5-month old child in Hungary, having
taken her details from the birth registry.
company shamed by "award"
To mark World Food
Day (15th October), the UK Food
Group, (a coalition of UK organisations, including Baby Milk
Action, Christian Aid and Oxfam) presented awards for positive
and negative impact on food security. Hipp "won" a "Shaming
Award" for its "misguiding labels on infant teas and
juices." These undermine exclusive breastfeeding by promoting
use of teas from as young as one week of age.
Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union at the IBFAN Europe
Regional Meeting were particularly concerned about the activities
of Hipp as it is promoting its products aggressively in hospitals.
In some health facilities in the Ukraine and Croatia, for example,
mothers have received a Hipp gift pack within hours of giving
25 reported on Nestlé's launch of Pure Life bottled
water in Pakistan, quoting from an article in the Wall Street
Journal (18th June '99) by Ernest Beck. Marketing Business (October
'99) reports that Pure Life has also been launched in Brazil and
that Nestlé "plans to take the product to other countries
by the end of this year. Bottled in China, it will be sold throughout
Asia, South America and Eastern Europe." l Following a Baby
Milk Action campaign Nestlé gave a written undertaking
not to use its advertising for bottled water to promote artificial
infant feeding. Unfortunately, we found that Nestlé soon
broke that promise and further action had to be taken (see Boycott
News 24). We will continue to monitor its activities closely.
breastfeeding rates on the rise
UNICEF has stated that reversing
the decline in breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.5 million
infants every year. Baby Milk Action's work for appropriate marketing
of baby foods contributes to this goal. The UNICEF publication
Progress of Nations 1999 reports encouraging trends in some countries:
"More infants are
gaining the irreplaceable benefits of exclusive breastfeeding
during their first four months, according to data from 35 developing
countries. Rates have increased in 21 countries. Iran achieved
the highest average annual increase in breastfeeding, 6 percentage
points, followed by Brazil and Zambia. Breastfeeding rates have
declined in Colombia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and
Tunisia. Breastfeeding gains stem from initiatives to publicize
the benefits to mother and child and to prohibit the advertising
and promotion of breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and
The report is available
from UNICEF (UK), Unit 1, Rignalls Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2
8TU, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1245 476315. Contact UNICEF for price information.
WHO's new guidelines
The industry agenda
to co-opt the UN and work in partnership with agencies such as
WHO continues to cause alarm amongst NGOs working to protect public
health. With the stakes so high, WHO's new draft Guidelines
on Interaction with Commercial Enterprises, could have an
important role to play. The guidelines are, however, very disappointing
and seem to be more an attempt to seek public approval for partnerships
with corporations, than to ensure that WHO stays true to its mandate
to improve health. Some good suggestions are made, but the language
used is contradictory and confusing, stressing the need for such
things as "mutual respect, trust, transparency and shared
benefit." These concepts hold very different meaning for transnational
corporations who have entirely different aims and values. Commercial
enterprises are called on to abide by WHO policies on medicinal
drugs, tobacco and chemical and food safety, but no mention is
made of WHO's infant feeding policies.
A smoking gun?
In the spirit of "full
and complete transparency" WHO's Director General, Dr Gro
Harlem Brundtland has ordered an investigation into "the
nature and extent of the undue influence which the tobacco industry
has exercised over UN organisations" in its efforts to undermine
UN-wide tobacco control efforts. The review will include 35 million
documents which are now in the public domain following court cases
in the USA. How long before WHO will investigate the food industry?
(Ref: WHO Press Release. 12 Oct 1999).
UNAIDS still refuses
Baby Milk Action and
our IBFAN partners continue to liaise with UNAIDS staff regarding
our concerns about corporate donations. We have been assured that
UNAIDS has still not accepted donations from formula manufacturers
(see Update 25).
transmission and exclusive breastfeeding
In August Baby Milk
Action's Health Campaigns Coordinator, Tessa Martyn, attended
an IBFAN Africa conference in South Africa, which developed guidelines
on HIV and infant feeding. During the conference Dr Anna Coutsoudis
presented the results of her study. Until now research has shown
that breastfeeding increases the risk of mother-to-child transmission
of HIV by 14%. However, it was unclear whether there was a difference
between exclusive breastfeeding and 'mixed' breastfeeding (ie
the occasional use of other foods or fluids). This study (n=547)
found that exclusive breastfeeding for 3 months reduced the risk
of early HIV transmission by 48% compared to mixed breastfeeding,
and the risk was similar to that when artificially feeding. In
other words, the additional risk of HIV transmission from exclusive
breastfeeding appeared to be zero. More research urgently needs
to be conducted to discover if these findings are replicated.
It is thought that exclusive breastfeeding is protective against
HIV because the gut is not damaged by allergens or contaminants.
This study, along with other research about mastitis and HIV transmission,
points to the possible conclusion that the most appropriate option
for ALL mothers, regardless of their HIV status, may be well managed,
A et al (1999) Influence of infant feeding patterns on early mother-to-child
transmission of HIV-1 in Durban, South Africa: a prospective cohort
study. The Lancet 354:471-476)
WHO Plan of Action
A set of draft proposals
from the European Regional Office of WHO (First Food and Nutrition
Action Plan for Europe 2000 - 2005) argues that a safe, healthy
diet can promote a sustainable environment. WHO suggests the setting
up of Food and Nutrition Mechanisms which would help to ensure
that national food policies take account of health. Among other
things it calls for policies to increase access to fruits and
vegetables (especially for low income households), legislation
to control advertising of high-fat, energy dense foods to children
and improved maternal and child nutrition, including breastfeeding.
For more details contact
Aileen Robertson, WHO Europe, 8 Scherfigsvej, DK - 2100 Copenhagen
0, Denmark. E-mail: email@example.com
& Policy Course
This course is organised
by the Institute of Child Health, London, in collaboration with
the WHO Division of Child Health and Development and the UNICEF
Nutrition Section. It aims to increase health professionals' scientific
knowledge of lactation, and their practical skills for the protection,
promotion and support of breastfeeding. The next course will be
held from 3rd - 28th July 2000. It is useful for clinicians, trainers
or programme organisers. It is particularly suited to overseas
applicants and group applications are welcomed. Funding may be
available - you will benefit if your attendance is supported by
your national UNICEF office.
For further details
contact ICH. Tel: +44 171 242 9789 ex 2122, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forced testing for
baby of HIV positive mother
On 3rd September the
High Court ruled that a breastfeeding mother, who has tested positive
for HIV, must have her baby tested. This case has invoked fury
from many sides, and has raised many issues, including: the rights
of the courts versus those of the parents, the rights of the mother
versus those of the child and enforced testing as opposed to informed
Baby Milk Action has
no vested interest in promoting breastfeeding at the expense of
infant health, but we are concerned that so much weight is put
on policies which have been hastily drawn up on the basis of inadequate
research. We call on policy makers to use caution and sensitivity
when implementing policies. As Phyll Buchanan from the Breastfeeding
Network stated in response to recent research from South Africa
on HIV and infant feeding 'telling HIV positive women to avoid
breastfeeding, is a message that may have to be reversed if the
findings in the Lancet are confirmed...this will inevitably prove
confusing.' (BfN press release 6/9/99).
New Minister for Public
Yvette Cooper has taken
over as Minister for Public health from Tessa Jowell. With a new
Minister in place it is a time for optimism and hope that the
Labour Government will bring the UK law into line with the International
Code and Resolutions. In 1995, when Labour were in opposition,
they put forward a motion noting their 'alarm' at the Conservative
Government's law because it 'put commercial interests before
infant health' (Opposition motion 525, March 1995).
Baby Friendly sets
a good example
This year, thanks to
the generous donations of Baby Milk Action members, we have had
stalls at the conferences of the Health Visitors' Association,
Royal College of Midwives' and Baby Friendly Initiative. The BFI
conference stands out for the way in which it remained largely
free of commercial 'paraphernalia' which often creates a conflict
of interest where the aim is to protect infant health.
A report by the World
Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was published at the launch of World
Breastfeeding Week and created scare stories around the world.
WWF wanted to highlight the risk of environmental contaminants,
which accumulate in body fats and are most readily measured in
breastmilk, which has a high fat content. Despite the fact that
the report noted falling levels and the greater transmission of
toxins in-utero, breastfeeding scare stories resulted in many
countries. Baby Milk Action received anxious calls from health
workers working to protect breastfeeding and infant health, in
countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and India. Perhaps WWF
can learn from UNICEF who conducted a similar review of existing
research in 1997. The UNICEF paper, Breastfeeding and Environmental
Contamination, did not look at breastfeeding in isolation
and cited a study which estimates that 'about three days of
life expectancy would be lost because of cancer attributable to
contaminant exposure through breastmilk. In contrast the decrease
life expectancy from not breastfeeding was about 70 days'.
UNICEF's paper is
available from Baby Milk
Action, or UNICEF Nutrition Section, 633 Third Avenue, New
York, NY 10017, USA.
You CAN do it here!
The National Childbirth
Trust has produced a directory of 'breastfeeding friendly' places.
This 29 page booklet looks at the policies of various shopping
centres, County Councils, airports, airlines and restaurants.
With continued media reports of women being shamed for breastfeeding
in public, this is an essential booklet for all breastfeeding
For further information
contact: NCT Maternity Sales Ltd. Tel: +44(0)141 636 0600 (£2.50
in the UK)
on the billboards
Standards Authority (ASA) received 32 complaints about an
advert for Irn-Bru (a soft drink) showing a baby happily
breastfeeding with the slogan "Mmmmm, Mum's been
at the Irn-Bru again." However, the ASA ruled that
the advert was 'humorous' and unlikely to cause serious
offence. Magda Sachs of the Breastfeeding Network commented:
"The fact that people complained about this advert
is ludicrous. Raising the issue of breastfeeding in this
light-hearted way shows that it is an everyday activity."
Breastfed children less
likely to be obese
A survey in Bavaria, Germany
(n=9357), of children aged 5 and 6 years found that the prevalence
of obesity in children who had never been breastfed was 4.5%,
as compared with 2.8% in breastfed children. Risk of obesity was
reduced with increased duration of breastfeeding. The authors
concluded that in industrialised countries promoting prolonged
breastfeeding may help decrease the prevalence of obesity in childhood.
This may result in a lower incidence of developing obesity-related
disorders in later life.
Ref: Von Kries et al (1999)
Breastfeeding and obesity: cross sectional study, British Medical
Breastfeeding reduces the
risk of asthma
A prospective cohort study
in Western Australia (n=2187) found: "a significant reduction
in the risk of childhood asthma at age 6 years occurs if exclusive
breastfeeding is continued for at least 4 months after birth."
It seems that the authors definition of 'exclusive breastfeeding'
meant no other milk, rather than the WHO definition of no other
fluids or food. However, these results are important in re-affirming
the benefits of breastfeeding, and the authors suggest that public
health interventions to optimise breastfeeding would help lessen
the community burden of asthma.
Ref: Oddy et al (1999) Association
between breast feeding and asthma in 6 year old children: findings
of a prospective birth cohort study, British Medical Journal,
Breastmilk kills cancer
The relationship between
not breastfeeding and breast cancer is already well documented.
Recent articles (Financial Times, 4/9/99; Discover Magazine, 30/6/99)
have reported studies at Lund University in Sweden which have
shown that a protein in breastmilk called alpha-lactalbumin actually
kills cancer cells. These findings have two major implications:
first, it presents a possible research direction for treatment
of cancer, and second, it adds to the growing list of the unique
properties of breastmilk.
UNICEF UK Baby Friendly
The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly
Initiative has produced dark blue A5 diary covers (including a
weight and height conversion chart) bearing the UNICEF and Baby
Friendly Initiative logos. They are sold at cost price to help
community health care professionals replace the diary covers given
away by formula companies to promote their milks.
Diary covers are available
from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, PO Box 29050, London
WC2H 9TA, UK. Prices in the UK are £1.34 each (for orders of 1,
2 or 3), £1.15 (for orders of 4-39) or £1.10 (for orders of 40
or more) - cheques should be payable to 'UNICEF'.
Work experience with
Baby Milk Action has
been fortunate to have had Tifenn Barré working as a full-time
Campaigns Assistant for 6 months on a French employment training
scheme. Tifenn summed up her time as follows:
months work placement at Baby Milk Action, I think it was a
very useful experience. I've learned everything I didn't know
about breastfeeding and about the behaviour of big companies,
like Nestlé. This placement has been useful for me to
find a voluntary mission with a French organisation and now
I'm ready to work for 2 years in West Africa. I thank the Baby
Milk Action team for giving me the opportunity to work in an
NGO and I hope they will find some other volunteers to help
them in their work."
Jenny Beard, who has
been studying Portuguese in Cambridge, commenced a one-year placement
with IBFAN Brazil at the end of October. Her posting is funded
by Voluntary Service Overseas as part of its Overseas Training
Programme. She will spend time with IBFAN groups in different
parts of the country.
If you are interested
in gaining work experience with IBFAN, contact Baby Milk Action.
You must have your own source of funding.
Members make the difference
Baby Milk Action failed
to cover its costs in the budget year October 1998 to September
1999, depleting our reserves. This exceptional occurrence arose
from the loss of long-term funders who have re-prioritised their
programmes to focus their expenditure in developing countries.
As competition for grants from other funders is increasingly intense,
our members make all the difference. But, sometimes ex-members
tell us they have lapsed because they felt they were not active
enough. If you feel you do not have the time to campaign, please
continue supporting us financially. Competition amongst baby food
companies in the UK is hotting up as Nestlé and Hipp are
expanding their range of products and promoting them aggressively.
In recent months we have seen Nestlé launch a £2 million
promotional campaign for its Junior Range of foods, £1 million
worth of Nescafé related support to charities, funding
for schools linked to its cereals and a major new PR offensive
on the baby milk issue. So thank you to all our members. As our
work-load increases we need you more than ever before.
Baby Milk Action training
In past newsletters
we asked if people were interested in attending a training day
or helping to arrange one. The prototype training day took place
in Cambridge in July. A second event took place in St. Albans
at the beginning of November. Many thanks to Area Contact, Katy
Waters, for carrying out the local organisation. For those of
you who have been waiting patiently to hear of an event in your
area, please bear with us. The next event is being planned to
take place in Preston in March. More details in the next Update.
Baby Milk Action
and you will receive the complete newsletters through the mail.