Well, thank goodness for Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. Â Not only is he limiting the consumption of soda pop for the improved health and well-being of city residents; Â he is instituting a plan in hospitals called Latch On NYC, in order to improve the health of the tiniest New Yorkers, the babies of the Big Apple.
His new mandate will keep baby formula under lock and key at hospitals, requiring new mothers to ask for formula for their babies. Â He contends that he is not forcing women to breastfeed, but merely encouraging healthier choices with the regulation of formula, bottles and pacifiers.
Much like the sugary drink mandate, Bloomberg’s breastfeeding regulations make it more difficult for mothers to make the decision to use formula rather than breast milk for their babies. Â Breast feeding, while universally agreed to be the healthiest option in most cases, is not always viable or possible. Â It is a decision between the parents of the child and the health care professions. Does the feeding of every newborn in the city really require Mayor Bloomberg’s input?
The initiative, sponsored by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, suggests that hospitals â[h]ave a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staffâ and â[g]ive no pacifiers of artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.â
At the time of its report, the CDC noted that only 4 percent of hospitals had adopted at least nine out of 10 of the steps included in the initiative, and that 9 percent of hospitals had adopted two or fewer of the steps.
Breastfeeding experts said that in light of this dismal situation, the New York City plan is sorely needed â and they say such policies will not restrict mothersâ choices in feeding their infants.
âLocking the formula up and paying for it does NOT mean it wonât be available for mothers who choose to exclusively formula feed or for mothers who want to supplement or for medically necessary formula supplementation,â wrote Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a pediatrician at Childrenâs Regional Hospital at Cooper in Camden, N.J. âIt simply helps keep track of usage and cuts down on indiscriminate use.â
Feldman-Winter, who is a published researcher on the topic of infant formula use in hospitals, said closer monitoring of formula has been demonstrated to make a difference.
âWe have shown that once the formula is kept in a locked cabinet (âlocked upâ) and used only when medically necessary, then the usage is cut in half, resulting in more infants exclusively breastfeeding, an outcome good for the infant, family and our society as a whole,â she said.