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GAO on infant formula

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

The Secretary of Agriculture should educate states on the restriction against using the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) acronym and logo in infant formula ads, a Feb. 8 Government Accountability Office report states. USDA also should ensure the restriction is included in all state formula contracts, GAO adds. The recommendation was formed as a result of the office's review of the potential impact of infant formula marketing on breastfeeding rates. The report finds breastfeeding rates in both WIC and non-WIC infants fall short of most national goals, with lowest rates for WIC infants. GAO also finds that although infant formula marketing targeted non-WIC mothers, advertising also reached mothers in the WIC population, and some of the marketing used the WIC logo and acronym in advertising. Additionally, most studies evaluated by the report showed that mothers who were given free formula at hospital discharge were less likely to breastfeed. Breastfeeding can provide infants with protection against infectious diseases and chronic health problems as well as reduce the mother's risk of developing certain cancers, GAO states...

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