Never mind the Trump Administration, Australia’s record on breastfeeding doesn’t rate so highly

13 September 2018

By Jen Hocking, Julie Smith, Naomi Hull and Mary Peterson, Croaky Online Health Journal, published 11th July 2018. 

On 25 May, Lucy Sullivan, executive director of the US-based 1,000 Days organisation, sent out a Twitter thread, warning that a battle over breastfeeding was brewing at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

She tweeted that the Trump Administration reportedly was using bullying tactics to stop a resolution promoting breastfeeding, including allegedly threatening trade, and that this was having “a chilling effect”.

In the end, the resolution was presented (by Russia, rather than Ecuador as was originally planned) and supported, albeit with some changes, and Sullivan tweeted that:

"As with other health policy battles, it comes down to public health vs. private profit.

What is at stake: breastfeeding saves women and children’s lives. It also is bad for the multibillion dollar global infant formula (and dairy) business."

Fast forward to 8 July, and New York Times article – covering much the same ground as Sullivan’s tweets – generated international condemnation of the Trump Administration’s actions, including from the American Public Health Association (see a selection of tweets at the end of the article below). Trump himself disputed the story, tweeting that the NYT article was “fake news”.

While Australian health organisations and experts have been among those condemning the US actions, the article below reminds Croakey readers that constant vigilance is required to protect breastfeeding from the influence of corporate forces.

Indeed, a new report card on Australia’s breastfeeding support and policy gives us a “mediocre” rating, report Jen Hocking, a midwifery lecturer and PhD candidate, Associate Professor Julie Smith, an ARC Future Fellow, Naomi Hull, a Lactation Consultant and National Coordinator of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi), and Mary Peterson, a communications specialist who is also a qualified breastfeeding counsellor.

You can read the article in full here.