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U.S. Support For Formula Industry Affects Different Races Disproportionately

The Conversation: U.S. support of formula over breastfeeding is a race issue
Andrea Freeman, associate professor at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law

“…American support of the formula industry comes at the cost of the health and lives of black and brown babies, at home and abroad. Both the [U.N. breastfeeding] resolution and the U.S. opposition to it stemmed from a decline in formula sales in the United States. The industry has sought to make up for its considerable domestic losses on the global market. The racial aspects of this local-global dynamic are hidden in plain sight. … Racially targeted marketing of formula has dire consequences, at home and abroad. In the United States, black mothers and children suffer disproportionately from a host of illnesses and conditions linked to formula use, from ear infections to infant mortality. Overseas, families sold on the superiority of formula that lack the means to purchase sufficient quantities often dilute it, with sometimes deadly consequences. … Racism — be it explicit, structural, or unconscious — accounts for the widespread indifference to the racially disproportionate effects of U.S. breastfeeding policies…” (7/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.