The Mexican government has officially outlawed the distribution of free baby formula in Mexican hospitals. The government has done this reportedly to encourage breastfeeding and increase infant health in the first few days. Why is the government taking such drastic measures? Well, according to BBC, Mexico has the lowest breastfeeding rate in Latin America. With only one in seven mothers breastfeeding in Mexico, the government feels that child well-being is at stake.
Based on health research, Colostrum, the mother’s first breast milk, is the most essential for the child. However, the Mexican authorities feel that because many Mexican mothers live in poverty and health conditions are poor, Mexican mothers should breastfeed for the first two years of their child’s life. This belief is very different from the breastfeeding requirement of the World Health Organization (WHO), which states that it is essential to breastfeed an infant for only six months. However, because the breastfeeding rate in Mexico has become a huge issue, decreasing year after year, the government stands by its decision.
In 2013, Mexico’s breastfeeding rates dropped drastically, causing a national stir. Basically, Mexico became the poster country for bad nursing, and health experts were quick to speak out. Then, Marcos Arana Cedeno, a child nutrition expert and activist located in Mexico’s Chiapas state, made a statement to the press.
“Mexico has become the example of what not to do. It’s the strongest case of a setback in breast-feeding.”
While mothers not breastfeeding their infants was the obvious problem, many experts blamed the government instead. It was widely believed that Mexican officials were not doing enough to promote breastfeeding or enforce some sort of breastfeeding guidelines. Deputy Director of the Mexican Health department, Dr. Rufino Luna Gordillo, stated,
“It’s clear that these efforts have not been enough to get to the ideal breast-feeding levels. We need to debunk many myths about breast-feeding, limit the abuse of infant formula makers… and award companies that offer nursing rooms.”
In agreement with Gordillo, international officials noticed that Mexico’s breastfeeding issue was severe. Specifically, Chess Latter of the Pan American Health Organization spoke on the culture of nursing in Mexico.
“In Mexico, breast-feeding is not a normative behavior. You are going to see probably walking down the street in Mexico City a lot more bottle-feeding than you are breast-feeding.”
Though the Mexican government has banned baby formula from being freely disbursed in hospitals, there still are many ways for mothers to get their hands on the milk substitute. One way is a request from the doctor, given similarly to a prescription. The other way, of course, is to simply buy the formula from shops.
[Image via Mamiverse]