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Mass. Bans Free Baby Formula Gifts

Massachusetts has now banned free gifts of baby formula to new mothers (AP)

On Beacon Hill, advocates of breastfeeding have declared victory, applauding a decision by all 49 maternity facilities across Massachusetts to ban formula companies from giving away free samples to new mothers.

Massachusetts is the second state to go “bag-free,” a reference to the free diaper bags and formula that formula companies traditionally give away to mothers who have just given birth. Rhode Island’s seven hospitals eliminated the bags and free formula last year.

Advocates of the movement say the free bags are a marketing technique that lowers breastfeeding rates. They argue that it’s a conflict of interest for hospitals to allow the practice — because the free bags represent a not-so-tacit endorsement of formula over breast-feeding.

But opponents call the ban misguided. They say it won’t get more women to breastfeed, but it will deprive poor women of formula. And they say it sends the wrong message to women who can’t or choose not to breastfeed.

Ban The Bags is a national advocacy group that aims to get baby formula gift bags banned in hospitals across the country, and Fearless Formula Feeder is a website that supports allowing free formula to be given to mothers.

Guests:

  • Dr. Amy Tuteur, obstetrician gynecologist and author of the skeptical OB
  • Dr. Bobbi Phillip, professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, and director of the Birthplace at Boston Medical Center

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