Breast is best

Authors


  • Conflict of interest: None.

Dear Editor,

As a practising paediatrician and Director of MotherSafe, a service where women and health-care providers are informed and counselled about the safety or otherwise of medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, I was somewhat taken aback to see the May edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health with its double-page S26 formula advertisement directly inside the front cover.

I fully understand that there are market forces at play as well as significant costs of producing this journal, which such advertising presumably offsets. There is also some contention (usually from representatives of Pharma) that paediatricians need to be informed about what formulas are available. Nevertheless, I feel very strongly that this should be done in an instructive and educational manner rather than as blatant advertising in such a prominent position in what is, after all, a peer-reviewed journal.

The Royal Australasian College of Paediatrics and paediatricians as a group should (and do) promote breastfeeding as is evident by the College's own 2007 Position Statement on Breastfeeding (http://www.racp.edu.au/index.cfm?objectid=B55F0AA9-9117-B7DA-A26CE548BAF56445). Surely this advertising goes against this position statement and is clearly inappropriately placed in this journal.

Commentary

As a strong advocate for breastfeeding, Debra Kennedy[1] questions the academic validity and, seemingly, the morality of publishing an advertisement for a milk formula. The editor-in-chief can veto advertisements and has done so if they were scientifically inaccurate or misleading. This one had a paragraph acknowledging that ‘breastfeeding provides the ideal nutrition for infants’ and then tried to maintain that their product was as close as possible to breast milk and might avert obesity. There is strong evidence that excessive promotion of formula feeding in developing countries has been deleterious to children's health. However, not everyone can breastfeed successfully, and I felt comfortable publishing this advertisement. I feel less comfortable now and welcome readers' opinions on the science and the ethics.

Ancillary