The number of American hospitals that don't distribute free samples of infant formula to new mothers has doubled in the past 3 years, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. That translates into over one quarter of all hospitals holding back from offering the samples.
The samples are provided by the formula makers, such as Similac and Enfamil. The study notes that the medical community is raising increasing objections to industry-sponsored free samples, saying that it results in a conflict of interest. An additional factor in the shift is the argument that formula samples might discourage or undermine breastfeeding among new mothers. The Huffington Post reports:
"We found a trend, in what I consider to be the right direction, that more hospitals are discontinuing sample pack distribution," said Anne Merewood, PhD, director of research for the Breastfeeding Center at Boston Medical Center and one of the report's authors.
She explained that multiple studies have shown formula freebies decrease both breastfeeding exclusivity and duration. Public health groups, including the Centers for Disease Control, say formula samples can negatively affect breastfeeding, particularly among first-time moms and those who are ill in the postpartum period.
(image via: http://www.babble.com/)