Breastfeeding At Risk

Formula marketing and biased media undermine public health

Peggy O'Mara
8 min readAug 18, 2022

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Recent media coverage of the infant formula shortage and of new breastfeeding guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics have undermined public health.

Coverage of the infant formula crisis has largely focused on mothers shaming one another because of their feeding choices, rather than on criticism of formula manufacturers for creating and expoiting the crisis. The truth is that mothers are helping each another. “The National Emergency Breastmilk Share” increased donations of breastmilk to Milk Banks — much of which is distributed to mothers in need. In addition, informal networks on Facebook and Twitter help local families share pumped breastmilk with formula feeding families.

In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their breastfeeding recommendations. For years they have urged exclusive breatfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to one year or longer. The new recommendation “supports continued breastfeeding until two years or beyond, as mutually desired by mother and child.” Rather than highlighting the fact that the lack of family-friendly policies in the US discourages breastfeeding, the press mostly framed the AAP recommendation as an impossibility for mothers.

Free choice or health…

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Peggy O'Mara

Peggy O’Mara is an award winning journalist. She was the Editor and Publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years. Her focus is Family, Health, and Justice.