They’re often quoted: “Breastfeed until at least 1″ and “Rear-face until at least 2″. There’s also the “Pacifiers don’t cause nipple confusion” and “Co-sleeping is dangerous” comments.
When one actually starts to look into the AAP’s policies and hypocrisy, it doesn’t take a genius, or even a conspiracy theorist, to realize one thing:
They really don’t promote breastfeeding like they claim they do and it’s because their real goal is to benefit their sponsors.
Oh yeah, I went there.
First, let’s look at a couple things they’ve said in 2005 in a position paper:
“Commercial promotion of infant formula through distribution of hospital discharge packs, coupons for free or discounted formula, and some television and general magazine advertising” are obstacles to breastfeeding.
They also go on to call for the elimination of “promotion of infant formula in hospitals including infant formula discharge packs and formula discount coupons.”
So, we all agree there, right? I know I do.
There are two specific movements out in regards to these issues. First, the Ban the Bags movement which has been adopted by the World Health Organization (in the form of a necessity to qualify as a “Baby Friendly” hospital) and Kaiser Permenente’ hospitals, who have seen a fantastic increase in initial breastfeeding rates AND success merely by eliminating formula and pacifiers from hospitals, and not giving any formula or paraphernalia (even coupons) to new moms.
The other movement is huge, and that is the WHO/UNICEF’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. The Code is explicit that: “There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public.” This code has been adopted in multiple countries to great success, and pinpoints everything the AAP claims to stand for.
So, if the AAP believes what they said in their paper, adopting the policies that have helped in other countries and even in hospitals in this country would seem to be a natural progression, right? An easy movement, piggy-backing off someone elses’ effort to attain the goals they set forth.
And yet, the AAP ignores the fact that the WHO, CDC and the last Surgeon General all state that TWO years should be the bare minimum for breastfeeding, and they allow advertising of formula absolutely everywhere… even in their OWN “Pediatrics in Review”, a page for the ongoing education of physicians and their NeoReviews.org webpage as well. Abbot (makers of Similac) support these pages and have their ads plastered everywhere. Talk about a conflict of interest.
But hang on, let me point out their sponsors that I’m aware of:
- Nestle, maker of Good Start formula, Nuk pacifiers and bottles, and now sadly, all Gerber products (bottles, pacifiers, baby food, and now, formula). Nestle gives AT LEAST one million dollars annually to the AAP.
- Enfamil, maker of formula.
- And though I need to check to make sure, I’m pretty sure the JMPA (makers of cribs) are donors as well.
- Abbot, makers of Similac.
So… formula, formula, bottles, pacifiers, cribs, formula, baby food, infant cereal, toddler formulas…
So when the AAP says, “Yeah, we should TOTALLY stop formula advertisements” but plasters their OWN webpages in formula advertisements and refuses to take steps to ban advertisements elsewhere, what do we see? A bunch of dang hypocrites who care more about their sponsor’s money that the actual health of the babies they’re supposed to be the champions for.
What other places do we see the influence of their sponsors?
The AAP claims that “babies are smart enough” to know the difference between pacifiers and bottles, and that only bottles cause nipple confusion… despite the fact that no other entity actually supports this, and the LLL still maintains that these can cause nipple confusion, and moreso, can even interfere with the mother’s supply as even comfort-nursing (where the baby isn’t eating) is important to the mother’s milk supply, and to other things, as Melanie points out in her post about the chemical “CCK” and the breastfeeding baby.
So, even though there’s multiple studies and experience that shows pacifiers can cause problems, the AAP suddenly says after one fishy study that they’re fine? I wonder which manufacturer of pacifiers paid for that policy change that came about suspiciously quick.
They also stated that pacifier use can prevent SIDS… but yet again, they’re actually replacing breastfeeding and co-sleeping with cribs and pacifiers… but they won’t tell you that.
The JPMA absolutely refuses to look at co-sleepers and deem them as safe or unsafe. Why? Because deeming them safe would undermine their own crib sales. The AAP adamantly refuses to even acknowledge potential benefits of co-sleeping, and maintains that it’s just unsafe and shouldn’t be practiced, but says babies need to be in cribs, period. Let’s ignore the fact that EITHER can be safe or unsafe depending on how they’re practiced, and co-sleeping or at least room-sharing is actually shown to be beneficial to infant survival and almost a necessity for exclusively breastfeeding success, the AAP won’t even entertain the idea that co-sleeping might actually be a good idea, even in co-sleepers. They certainly won’t tell you how to safely co-sleep or how to buy a safe co-sleeper. After all, what money is to be gained by women feeding their babies free breastmilk in their bed they already owned? Chalk one up to crib AND formula manufacturers here.
As I already mentioned, the AAP maintains that you should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and then until at least one… despite the fact that they are the only medical group who claims one as a bare minimum instead of two. Let’s look at the fact that there are toddler formulas and Pediasure. So their sponsors show a product that suggests that children need extra nutrition until two or three years old, and yet the AAP only recommends breastfeeding until one? Hmm. Whose wallet benefits from people stopping at one? Especially considering people often will fall short of the “minimum”, and when it’s one year old instead of two, that means they’ll turn to formula for the remainder of that first year. Yay formula company wallets, again.
The absolutely amazing editorial article Sleeping with the Enemy: “More Doctors SmokeCamels” Revisited points out something else disturbing when they read a Babys R Us catalog entitled “Becoming Us: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for Getting Ready for Baby“:
When we perused this resource guide online in late May 2010, we found pictures of Similac, Enfamil, Good Start, & Earth’s Best infant formulas (each hyperlinked to more extensive advertisement) as well as what looks to be a candy for toddlers (Plum Organics Fiddlesticks).
On page 3 of the Babys “R” Us guide we read: The editorial content of this resource guide has been reviewed for consistency with the health & safety recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Special thanks for reviewing the guide go to: Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP & Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, authors of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. Copies of this award-winning AAP parenting book are available for purchase at select Babys “R” Us stores, bookstores nationwide and at HealthyChildren.org, the new AAP Website for parents.
It is troublesome that the Academy puts its endorsement on what is essentially an infomercial for the baby products industry. It is concerning that the “comprehensive resource guide” is all about buying products, presenting this as the essence of preparing for a new baby. But the Academy’s endorsement of advertising materials which include breast-milk substitutes seems to violate the essence of their position paper as well as what we know to be best for mothers and children.
So, despite all the AAP’s talk about being supportive of breastfeeding as the perfect food for infants, and their agreement that advertisements, endorsements and freebies interfere, it’s clear by their actions that they don’t walk the walk. Their bottom line is not the well-being of infants — it’s the well-being of their sponsors’ wallets, and their own.
Shame on you, AAP. The abysmal breastfeeding rates, and as a result, SIDS rates in this country could be directly affected by your influence, if you’d actually choose to put the babies your organization is supposed to stand for ahead of the sponsors who benefit directly from failure of breastfeeding, and as a result, infant death. The blood is on your hands from your dirty money.
Image via erintongay/Flickr