U.S. Hospitals Asked to Stop Free Baby Formula Samples

May 6, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. advocacy (n.) 
[ad-vuh-kuh-see] – activities done in support of a cause or a goal
Example: Martin Luther King Jr. started an advocacy to protect the rights of African Americans.

2. infant formula (n.) [in-fuhnt][fawr-myuh-luh] – an alternative to mother’s milk
Example: Some mothers who cannot breastfeed use infant formula to feed their babies.

3. sample (n.) [sam-puhl, sahm-] – a free item given by companies for customers to try or test
Example: Customers were given samples of the newest food product to test its flavor.

4. send the wrong message (idiom) [send][thuh][rawng, rong][mes-ij] – to mislead someone with one’s words or actions
Example: Hospitals with poor service send the wrong message to the public.

5. exclusively (adv.) [ik-skloo-siv, -ziv] – without any other being included, involved or used
Example Most babies who were exclusively breastfed had not tasted infant formula.

Read the text below.

Consumer and health advocacy groups have asked more than 2,600 US hospitals to stop giving free infant formula samples to mothers who have just given birth.

Top infant formula companies like Abbot, Mead, and Nestle, have also been asked to stop distributing these samples.

According to a report, about 66% of hospitals in the US still give away infant formula in company-sponsored sample bags, along with other baby products and pamphlets.

Advocacy groups, such as Public Citizen, are worried that hospitals may be sending the wrong message. They say mothers might mistakenly think that hospitals promote the use of infant formula.  The free formula might also encourage mothers to give up breastfeeding before even asking help from health professionals.

Government data show that only 14% of babies under six months old are exclusively breastfed.  However, US health officials wish to increase the number to 26% by 2020, because of the many health benefits of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding has been known to help protect babies against diseases and to reduce babies’ chances of developing obesity. It is also much cheaper than buying infant formula, which could cost up to $2,800 a year.

However, some hospitals and formula makers defend their practice. International Formula Council’s executive vice president, Mardi Mountford, says women who have difficulties with breastfeeding want to know more about their options.

Furthermore, the American Hospital Association says that although breastfeeding is indeed the best choice, hospitals have a duty to support mothers who choose not to breastfeed by offering more information and resources.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Should women have the option not to breastfeed their babies? Please explain your answer.
·         What other benefits of breastfeeding can you think of?

Discussion B

·         How can health information be misused by companies?
·         What can a person do to make sure he/she gets correct health information?


May 6, 2012