Debate: Should access to baby formula be limited in hospitals?

When you have a baby, naturally you want to do what’s best for them. That’s the rationale behind New York


When you have a baby, naturally you want to do what’s best for them.

That’s the rationale behind New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on free bottles of baby formula in NY hospitals. Instead of receiving formula handouts, new moms will be advised that breastfeeding is the healthier choice.

‘Most public health officials around the country think this is a great idea,’ Bloomberg said at a City Hall briefing. ‘The immunities that a mother has built up get passed on to the child, so the child is healthier.’

It’s hard to argue that breast milk isn’t the healthier choice. Studies have shown that babies who are breastfed end up smarter and happier. A child who is breastfed has a reduced chance of being obese later in life’and one study even showed that breastfeeding can save babies’ lives.

According to Health Canada, breast milk is best: ‘Breastfeeding provides nutritional, immunological, and emotional benefits to infants and toddlers. It’s the best food for healthy growth and development. Healthy term infants should be exclusively breastfed to six months of age and then continue to be breastfed with appropriate complementary feeding to two years of age and beyond.’

Experts would agree that Bloomberg is promoting the healthier choice’yet people believe he’s taking away their choice entirely (much like they did when he imposed a ban on large sugary drinks).

Here’s the thing about that, though: People can still buy sugary drinks, and they can still buy baby formula. (In fact, they can even buy breast milk). Bloomberg isn’t taking away a person’s right to choose, he’s just making it harder to make an unhealthy one.

What do you think? Is it the government’s responsibility to ensure people make healthy choices? Would you support a similar restriction in Canadian hospitals?

-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor

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