FOR RELEASE February 17, 2004 at 11:00 am

 

Mead Johnson Formula Claims Deceptive and Misleading:

Puts Canada’s Infants at Risk

 

Breastfeeding experts, author and pediatrician, Dr. Jack Newman and infant and young child nutritionist, Elisabeth Sterken, National Director of INFACT Canada, are hosting a media conference on Tuesday, February 17th, at 11:00 am, at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto, to blow the whistle on Mead Johnson’s bogus claims that its modified Enfamil A+ formula enhances mental development of infants. The claims violate Canada’s Food and Drug regulations on health claims for infant formulas as well as consumer protection laws prohibiting misleading advertising. INFACT Canada is urging Health Canada to enforce these regulations and order Mead Johnson to withdraw its deceptive marketing claims.

 

“What’s so shocking is that Mead Johnson’s claims are not verified by scientific evidence,” said Dr. Newman. “The only study cited by Mead Johnson was funded by the formula maker. Independent research does not confirm these claims.”

 

The Mead Johnson advertisements are clearly designed to compete with breastfeeding and increase the feeding of formula by newborn and young infants. Comparisons made to breastmilk on product labels and advertisements gives new parents the false and deceptive impression that the product has benefits similar to breastmilk.

 

“ Mead Johnson dupes parents into believing they are going to get smarter babies through these false claims,” said Elisabeth Sterken, nutritionist and National Director of INFACT Canada. “This is unconscionable when we know that formula feeding can have lasting negative health effects for both mother and baby.”

 

Increased consumption of infant formulas is linked to higher rates of infant and childhood illness such as gastrointestinal, respiratory and ear infections; increased chronic illness including juvenile diabetes, asthma and allergies, as well as childhood cancers. Adults who were formula fed during infancy are at higher risk from obesity and heart disease.

 

“Mead Johnson must take full responsibility for the health outcomes of Canadian infants and children and the costs to parents as a result of their false marketing claims,” said Sterken.  

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Elisabeth Sterken          416-595-9819

esterken@infactcanada.ca

 

 

Notes for the Press:

 

1.      Mead Johnson has priced Enfamil A+ 20 to 30 per cent above other formulas. Thus parents are paying more for a product that not only increases health risks for infants but cannot deliver on the claims made by the promotions.

 

2.      Infant formula is manufactured in liquid or powdered form and is based on cow’s milk or soya as the primary sources for its ingredients. It is only intended to replace breastmilk when there is medical indication for its need.

 

3.      The fats (DHA and ARA) added to the Mead Johnson Enfamil A+ are derived from soil fungi and microalgea. These are only two of the myriad of fats needed for full growth and development of infants. These two substitutes cannot biochemically produce the same brain and neurological development as the fats naturally present in human milk.

 

4.    Human milk is an intricate matrix of fats, proteins, milk sugars and complex immunological and growth factors. These act in a synergistic and complementary way for optimal growth, development and health of infants and children. This cannot be replicated in a synthesized product available in a tin can.

 

5.    The supplier of the DHA and ARA, the Martek company has stated in its stock market promotions of the fats that:  Infant formula is currently a commodity market, with all products being almost identical and marketers competing intensely to differentiate their product. Even if Formulaid has no benefit, we think it would be widely incorporated into formulas, as a marketing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as “closest to human milk”.

 

6.      Mead Johnson’s claims cannot be substantiated by independent scientific evidence.

Dietary supplementation of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in preterm infants: effects on cerebral maturation.

van Wezel-Meijler G, van der Knaap MS, Huisman J, Jonkman EJ, Valk J, Lafeber HN. Department of Paediatrics, Free University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. G.van_Wezel-Meijler@lumc.nl  Acta Paediatr 2002, 91:942-945

CONCLUSION: Supplementation of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids did not have a demonstrable positive influence on structural brain maturation. Related to this finding, in this small cohort of pre-term infants without significant neurological damage, sample size being restricted by strict inclusion criteria and MRI procedures, no significant positive effects were found on psychomotor, mental and visual development.

 

Formula supplementation with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: are there developmental benefits?

 

Scott DT, Janowsky JS, Carroll RE, Taylor JA, Auestad N, Montalto MB.Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Pediatrics 1998, 102:E59

CONCLUSION: The DHA group scored lower than the non-randomized human milk comparison group on the Vocabulary Comprehension Scale, and the DHA group scored lower than the randomized control formula group on the Vocabulary Production Scale. Moreover, additional analyses both in the formula groups and in the human milk comparison group found significant negative correlations between DHA levels and vocabulary outcomes. We believe that additional research should be undertaken before the introduction of these supplements into standard infant formulas.