Latest news and research roundup

News and updates on the Code

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Our latest news and research roundup focuses on The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code).

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A joint statement on infant feeding in emergencies 

UNICEF, the Global Nutrition Cluster and Partners have issued a joint statement on protecting maternal and child nutrition in the Ukraine conflict and refugee crisis. This guidance was issued to help secure immediate and coordinated action on infant and young child feeding – read more on our infant feeding in emergencies webpage here.

How formula marketing influences infant feeding decisions

A new report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF draws insights from parents and health professionals across eight countries and uncovers systematic and unethical marketing strategies used by the infant formula industry, including here in the UK – read more on this report on our dedicated webpage.

Conflicts of interest harm maternal and child health

Forty years after the World Health Assembly adopted the Code, inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes persists, putting infants and young children at risk of malnutrition, illness and death. This report calls for all scientific journals to stop accepting funding from formula manufacturers and distributors and explores how the industry uses medical marketing strategies to influence scientists and health professionals.

Pereira-Kotze C, Jeffery B, Badham J, et al. Conflicts of interest are harming maternal and child health: time for scientific journals to end relationships with manufacturers of breast-milk substitutes. BMJ Global Health 2022;7:e008002. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2021-008002

Breastfeeding, first-food systems and corporate power

This paper examines the Philippines as a case study to understand the battle for national Code implementation, with particular attention placed on the political strategies used to shape the country’s ‘first-food system’. Findings indicate a decline in breastfeeding in the Philippines in the mid-twentieth century associated with intensive breastmilk substitutes marketing in health systems and consumer advertising.

Baker, P., Zambrano, P., Mathisen, R. et al. Breastfeeding, first-food systems and corporate power: a case study on the market and political practices of the transnational baby food industry and public health resistance in the Philippines. Global Health 17125 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-021-00774-5

Learn more about the Code

  • Ending inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes: This policy brief provides a regulatory framework on strengthening implementation of the Code.
  • A quick guide to the Code: Healthcare professionals and policy makers can use this quick guide to reference the Code in an easy-to-read and visual layout.
  • Enforcing all provisions of the Code: A WHO advocacy brief has been published which calls for implementation and enforcement of all provisions of the Code and signposts towards helpful resources.
  • Costs of infant formula, follow-on formula and milks marketed as foods: This report by First Steps Nutrition Trust summarises costs of infant formula, follow-on formula and infant milks marketed as foods for special medical purposes.

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