Since the late 1950s, hospitals have been sending new mothers home with more than just their adorable newborn. In many hospitals across the country, new moms are gifted with free formula "packs" that include samples, coupons, promotional materials, and other goodies.
A new study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of hospitals providing moms with formula as they leave has fallen, although one-third of hospitals in the United States still do so.
The new research, which was published in Pediatrics, found that fewer than 25 percent of hospitals in 24 states distributed formula packs in 2013, compared to just one—Rhode Island—in 2007. Conversely, in just two states—Iowa and South Dakota—did more than 75 percent of hospitals hand-out formula in 2013, compared to 30 in 2007.
Previous studies have found that mothers who received free formula from hospitals had lower rates of exclusive breastfeeding. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life.)
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
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Image: Newborn with formula via Shutterstock