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Proposed breastfeeding bill 'not best for babies,' group says


A consolidated bill currently pending at the House of Representatives will benefit multinational milk companies and not Filipino mothers or their babies, a coalition of non-government organizations opposed to it said.

According to a position paper from Save the Babies Coalition, the bill, if passed into law, "will destroy the innate power of breastfeeding that aims to protect the Filipino’s next generations’ health and wealth."

The bill proposes to allow advertising for breast milk substitutes and infant formula, which, the coalition said, "will cause irreparable damage to the growth and development of our country."

"Insidious marketing through advertising and promotions of baby milk (and) food products undermine the confidence of the mothers on her innate ability to sustain breastfeeding because of the seduction of sophisticated advertisements," the coalition said.

Buying infant formula will cost the average family around P3,000 more a month, and could cost more since babies will be less healthy than if breastfed, Save the Babies said. "If babies are weaned from breastfeeding early, the problem of malnutrition will beset the Filipino family, and consequently the country’s future is compromised," Save the Baby lead convenor Ma. Ines Fernandez said.

The coalition also opposed allowing advertising on health claims like higher IQs for babies. "Ironically, all the health and nutritional claims (advertised) did not produce a population of gifted genius Filipino babies who were hooked on artificial milks all their growing up years," Fernandez said.

Instead, she said, breastfed babies were found to have a "multi-intelligence score" around eight points higher than artificially-fed babies. They are also more emotionally secure because of close bonding with their mothers during breastfeeding, she said.

The coalition also opposed the bill's proposal to include milk manufacturers in programs meant to promote breastfeeding, in research and scholarship programs for health professionals, and in food donations. They said these programs might make health professionals beholden to multinational milk corporations.

Fernandez said the controversial bill "weakens our health system, opening the door to all sort and forms of inducements and financial assistance that will certainly be used to promote and market their own products by the milk industry."

The explanatory note on the original bill filed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Malabon Rep. Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel said it was meant to "protect, support, and promote breastfeeding, which is considered the best form or gold standard of nutrition for infants." Also listed as authors are Reps. Anna York Bondoc, Lani Mercado-Revilla, Lucy Torres-Gomez, and Magtanggol Gunigundo

Save the Babies coalition comprises Civil Society for Educational Reform, Ecowaste Management Coalition, Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies Inc., Health Justice, and Mother Support Groups.

by: By Jonathan de Santos-yahoonews

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