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BABY FORMULAS INFANT MORTALITY
Statistics show that poor sanitary conditions, contaminated water and uncertain food supply make a third-world child’s early years most perilous. But health authorities claim the problem of infant mortality in developing nations is compounded by the manufacturers of prepared baby formulas, who lure mothers from the safest and most economical means of nourishing their children, breast-feeding. According to WHO officials, breast-feeding is declining in some parts of the world. However, the organization warns that generalization of national patterns is difficult. For instance, a WHO survey showed that 28% of the middle-class women living in Guatemala’s urban areas were breast-feeding their three-month-old babies. At the same time, more than 90% of the poor women in rural areas were nourishing their naturally.
Third-world mothers who live in cities have easy access to western products, including baby formulas. They often work outside the home and cannot return to their babies at feeding time. Some have climbed to the middle class and see formula feeding as a Western status symbol. As always, economics is a pervasive factor. `Thousands of mother here can breast-feed only for a few weeks because they need to get back to work to get cash for the home,’ explains a women ‘s group leader in Nairobi.
Other women believe that natural milk is not good enough for their babies, and that even if it were; they could not supply it in sufficient quantity. Doctors discount those worries. `Unless the mother is severely malnourished, she can produce good milk and in enough quantity for her baby.’ Nevertheless, women to a nine-country WHO survey on breast-feeding said their for switching to the bottle was the fear that they do not have enough milk. What most disturbs opponents of the bottle is the way manufacturers market their products. Boycotters contend that advertising, theoretically aimed at middle-class women, has snared mothers from impoverished families as well. Companies have sent uniformed milk-nurses to communities to advertise their products, knowing that women will make mistake the workers for medical personnel. They complained about billboards boosting powdered formula and posters that appear in pediatrics wards. Perhaps most insidious is the practice of giving a new mother a few free cans of formula when she leaves the hospital. Often, mothers do not know what they are starting until it becomes a habit.