International Code on Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes
One of the tenets of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is that the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, including infant formula, discourages mothers from initiating and/or exclusively breastfeeding their infants. The International Code on Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes, adopted by the WHO in 1981, recommends restrictions on the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, infant feeding bottles, and teats. Hospitals and birthing centers wishing to attain Baby-Friendly designation must abide by the provisions of the International Code on Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes.
Significant provisions of this code prevent hospitals and birthing centers from accepting free or low-cost infant formula, providing free samples of infant formula to families, or advertising breast-milk substitutes. Provisions of the International Code on Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes require:
- No advertising of breast milk substitutes to families
- No free samples or supplies in the health care system.
- No promotion of products through health care facilities, including no free or low-cost formula.
- No contact between marketing personnel and mothers.
- No gifts or personal samples to health workers.
- No words or pictures idealizing artificial feeding, including pictures of infants, on the labels or product.
- Information to health workers should be scientific and factual only.
- All information on artificial feeding, including labels, should explain the benefits of breastfeeding and the costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding.
- Unsuitable products should not be promoted for babies.
- All products should be of high quality and take account of the climate and storage conditions of the country where they are used.
The entire International Code on Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes document is available at:www.who.int/nutrition/publications/code_english.pdf