Bloomberg proposes restrictions on baby formula to encourage breast-feeding

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Last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced yet another beverage restriction in New York City. But rather than reducing soda sizes, this time he s targeting baby formula. In an effort to encourage more mothers to breast-feed, Bloomberg and the NYC Department of Health are pushing for hospitals to keep track of the quantity of baby formula stored, as well as how much is distributed.

The voluntary initiative, termed Latch On NYC, would require that formula be locked up or otherwise made less accessible to new moms. While formula would still be available on request, it would be distributed more like a prescription medication, and mothers would receive it only after undergoing a talk on why breast is best. Additionally, many hospitals have agreed to stop sporting formula-company logos and are even concocting medical rationales for every bottle of formula distributed.

Although studies have demonstrated numerous benefits associated with breast-feeding, the issue is far from black and white. As we discussed in last week s Dispatch, a woman s choice to breast-feed is dependent upon multiple factors, such as family concerns and time limitations. Breast-feeding is a huge commitment and is not the best decision for every new mother; in those instances, infant formula is a safe and nutritious alternative. Mothers should not feel guilty about opting for forumla.

In response to the mayor s new initiative, ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross points out, For a city administration to coerce new mothers into exclusively breast-feeding by limiting access to formula and demanding that staff justify its distribution is absurd. This is just another addition to a long list of egregious overreaches by the mayor, who continues to believe he knows what s best for everyone in his city.