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Infant formula ads banned, breastfeeding encouraged

2011-11-09 13:55    Ecns.cn     Web Editor: Wang Fan

(Ecns.cn) – The Ministry of Health released a draft of new regulations concerning the management of breast milk substitutes on its website Tuesday, indicating an upcoming prohibition on any kind of advertising or sales promotion for infant formula. The measure is designed to encourage breast feeding, reported the Beijing Daily.

The prohibition does not single out infant formula alone but involves various dairy products. Promotional activities such as "buy two, get a toy bear for free" and "buy six, get a baby motorcycle for free" proved very popular, but manufactuers will now be taken to court and face penalties, or even harsh punishment, for using such incentives.

Like the warning printed on each cigarette packet, the ministry demands all breast milk substitute producers to prominently display the message "Breast feeding is encouraged" on their packaging. What's more, no images of infants are allowed to appear on the product's wrapping, and claims such as "humanized milk" are also forbidden.

Some medical workers used to provide brochures or free samples while advising pregnant women on the use of dairy products. The ministry has also put a ban on this practice and demands all hospitals comply with the crackdown on such activities.

According to a study printed in the latest issue of The Journal of Social Science and Medicine, mothers were 6.4 times more likely to stop breastfeeding infants after one year if they were advised against it. Cessation of breastfeeding increases the risk of disease and infant death, while mother's milk is known to reduce infant mortality.