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Canada Breastfeeds News

Canadian pharmacists updated position statement on breastfeeding

Pharmacist Jennifer Peddlesden has been instrumental in helping her professional association, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, develop a new position statement on infant feeding. The result is a model for other professional associations. Highlights include statements such as:

  • breastfeeding is an important immediate and long-term preventive health care measure for both infant and mother.
  • pharmacists have a responsibility to promote the health and well-being of Canadians by protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

The position statement:

  • encourages pharmacists to promote the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding by providing information to the patient on the benefits and normal course of breastfeeding, management of common difficulties, breastfeeding and the employed mother, drugs and lactation, referral to breastfeeding experts or support groups, and the availability of ancillary breastfeeding supplies.
  • encourages pharmacists who sell breastmilk substitutes, ancillary products and baby food to be familiar with the WHO/UNICEF Code and monitor their marketing practices.

Jennifer Peddlesden says: "Pharmacists have a unique role. As distributors of infant formula and related products they educate consumers on the health risks of infant formulas and the proper use of these products, and as health professionals they stand ready to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. I believe this statement provides excellent guidance in this dual role."

Baby shows

Two visitors to the Baby Show at the Toronto International Centre reported on the activities of formula manufacturers.

From Esther Goldstein: "They handed any woman close by a form to fill out to join their "club" and once the form was handed back they gave away really cute bags with individual use formula envelopes. ... Then, and this was the worst part -- the girl behind the desk asks these very pregnant women if they plan to breastfeed -- if they said yes, she handed them 'regular formula' in a large tin -- if they said no -- they got the iron-fortified one. ... Their literature indicated that over one million of these packages would be given out to new and expectant mothers across North America."

From Len Cherry: "All three (Nestlé, Ross and Mead Johnson) were there with huge display booths ... getting people to fill out forms to become 'members' of their 'baby clubs', but of all of them Mead Johnson was the worst. ... All of course were giving away free formula samples. An angry male Mead Johnson rep told me that they were not breaking any code because I had 'willingly' walked into their booth."

Ottawa-Carleton WHO Code Committee

After inviting Elisabeth Sterken, director of INFACT Canada to speak to public health nurses and the Breastfeeding Promotion Committee of Ottawa-Carleton, the WHO Code committee was formed, and after just five meetings the members have:

  • developed statements on the impact of bottles on breastfeeding outcomes at any age, and on the hazards of inaccurate formula preparation. These were added to updated handouts and pamphlets.
  • developed a form letter to alert magazine editors about inappropriate marketing practices and advertising.
  • changed the format of prenatal classes. The class on infant feeding now provides information on breastfeeding only; those who are interested in information on formula preparation are asked to stay for 10-15 minutes after the class.
  • reviewed videos used for prenatal and postnatal teaching. The CPS video Baby's First Months made breastfeeding and formula feeding sound equivalent, so a sticker was placed on the video advising staff not to show the section on infant feeding.

Children targeted with formula marketing in Halifax

Bonnie Anderson, a Public Health Nutritionist, describes being 'outraged' when her son, in grade six at Burton Ettinger School in Halifax, took part in a Junior Achievement program. A guest speaker spoke to them about business and marketing, and "at the end of the last session, the children received certificates with their names on them, a four-page brochure talking about how to market products and a Similac can containing Post-It notes. These are 12 year old children!" She was pleased, though, to find that the Medical Officer of Health (Dr. Rob Strang) and Director of Public Health Services (Linda Young) shared her anger at this blatant attempt to advertise to young children.

 
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