Following reports of infant illness last year, the FDA investigated and subsequently issued a warning not to use products manufactured at the Abbott baby food plant. Abbott responded by voluntarily shutting the facility resulting in an acute shortage of baby formula in the US – and rampant hysteria. Given Abbott’s strenuous denial that its products caused harm, one cannot help wondering if this closure was an overreaction or a calculated ploy.
The use of sophisticated econometric techniques does not demonstrate that the introduction of formula to low- and middle-income countries resulted in a higher infant mortality. At best, it demonstrates that how the formula was reconstituted had an effect. And at worst, it is advocacy disguised by mathematical technique.