HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads Formula Industry Urged Softer Campaign
By Marc Kaufman and Christopher Lee Washington Post Staff Writers Friday, August 31, 2007; A01
In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.
Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.
The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter, the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads.
No matter that immune deficiencies are soaring, no matter that children are so sick as babies that we pump them full of antibiotics and promote super-viruses. No matter that the asthma rates and birth defects are soaring in America.
Tommy Thompson, ex-governor of Wisconsin caved in an instant to the baby formula criminals--the same people who devastated Africa with fatal child-diarrhea. Nestle and Infamil no doubt led the pack to sicken America's babies.
Breast milk is irreplaceable for infants, yet we have been advertised into bottle-feeding and successfully relegated female breasts to the junk-pile of cosmetic surgery.
Helluva job, Tommy. 'Grateful.' I'll just bet they were, but it didn't save your presidential bid.