Most parents choose formula feeding as a standard alternative to provide their infants with the correct nutrition for healthy growth. Healthcare professionals profess that breast milk is the best option for infants, as it protects them against various conditions and diseases. However, keeping in mind today’s hectic schedules, it’s not always feasible for mothers to breastfeed their babies.
As a result, baby formula has become highly popular among mothers who are struggling to breastfeed. Mothers with medical conditions also choose baby formula over breast milk. Infant formula has been manufactured to mirror the advantages of breast milk. However, parents must be aware of the negative health hazards linked to formula feeding to make an informed choice.
Recently, studies have highlighted that baby formula manufacturers resort to deceptive marketing strategies to increase sales of unsafe cow’s milk-based formula. More often than not, parents fall prey to it, and their infants suffer from NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis), a debilitating gastrointestinal disease.
In this article, we will shed light on the aggressive marketing tactics used by baby formula manufacturers to help parents make mindful decisions about their infant’s nutrition.
Baby Formula Marketing Tactics Are Destructive
In February 2023, a team of WHO researchers published a report in The Lancet about the predatory marketing practices used by baby formula manufacturers. Such marketing tactics have led to a decrease in the prevalence of breastfeeding, despite its obvious advantages for children.
This study has gained prominence as Mead Johnson and Abbott have faced several legal complaints. Almost every NEC baby formula lawsuit filed by parents alleges that these companies chose profits over the safety and health of infants. Both companies overlooked the strong evidence that suggests newborns are vulnerable to NEC, which can be triggered by switching to formula feeding in the NICU or a hospital.
In February 2023, a news article in Fortune highlighted that the formula-feeding industry generates nearly $55 billion annually and spends $3 billion on aggressive marketing. This goes against WHO’s international code from 1981, which discourages the marketing of formula feeding in most cases.
Dr. Nigel Rollins, a WHO scientist, asserts that many women don’t breastfeed their babies. According to new research, the political and economic power of the leading formula milk brands and public policy failures are the primary reasons for this.
Hence, there is a need for proper action in various sectors of society to offer better support to mothers, enabling them to breastfeed their babies for as long as they desire. Additionally, proactive initiatives should be taken to address the issue of exploitative formula marketing in the long run.
How Do Baby Formula Manufacturers Promote Their Products?
It is necessary to examine the tactics that baby formula manufacturers employ to ensure parents choose their products over breastfeeding. They instill certain ideas in parents that lack substantial scientific evidence. Some of these include:
- Medical experts highlight that poor nighttime sleeping, fussiness, and crying among babies are considered developmentally normal. However, the formula industry portrays these as symptoms of underlying medical issues that formula feeding can remedy.
- Linda Richter, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, states that baby formula manufacturers often use poor science to promote their products. There is limited scientific data that suggests formula feeding is the solution for infant developmental and health challenges.
- Baby formula manufacturers resort to gender politics to make more profits. They suggest that formula feeding is the ideal solution for working mothers and have lobbied against federal paid leave programs.
Finally, the formula-feeding industry promoted the idea among parents that breast milk has inadequate nutrition. They even tried this tactic with healthcare professionals who guide parents on infant nutrition. This was done through conference sponsorship, research funding, and advertising in specific scientific journals.
What Can Parents Do?
In June 2023, allaboutlawsuits.com reported that a woman from Ohio filed a lawsuit against the makers of Similac for the wrongful death of her child. Her baby died five days after birth. She mentioned that her baby developed NEC as an after-effect of using Similac’s infant formula based on cow’s milk.
And this is exactly what parents should do: take legal recourse. At times, a baby might survive after developing NEC but have a blocked, narrowed, or scarred intestine. One of the obvious after-effects of this is malabsorption of nutrients.
Any parent who has witnessed the same for their baby should seek both medical and legal assistance. More legal complaints against baby formula manufacturers will help raise awareness about the dangers of formula feeding.
TorHoerman Law states that if your child was given a bovine-based formula by the hospital, you qualify to file a legal complaint. Collect every piece of evidence and share it with an able attorney who will build the case for you.
However, it is necessary to take action within two years from the date of discovery or injury. The settlement amount can vary between $5,000 and $500,000 or more, as seen in earlier product liability lawsuits.
The market today is heavily tilted towards formula feeding, highlighting its convenience for modern-day families. Hence, to bring things into balance, the government must step in with corrective measures. Today, some campaigns promote the consumption of vegetables and fruits over processed and unhealthy foods.
A similar approach is needed to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding. There needs to be some form of regulation to protect babies from the dangers of NEC.
Meanwhile, parents whose children have suffered from NEC should voice their concerns by filing a legal complaint. It is necessary for more cases of NEC caused by formula feeding to come to light. It will help parents reconsider the same and stop using it.