Conflicts of Interest in Infant Feeding Training Programs
Designated hospitals and those seeking designation are required to comply with the most current US Baby-Friendly Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria (GEC), which includes adherence to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (International Code). Our goal is to ensure that the judgements and recommendations of health care staff and providers are free from commercial interests and obligations and meet the individual needs of mothers and babies.
It is appropriate for staff to be trained on the scientifically valid indications and contraindications of infant feeding products, their use and infant feeding techniques, and such information should not imply that bottle feeding, or formula, is equivalent to or superior to breastfeeding. To the extent that any training program does contain some product logos, the facility shall make clear to its staff that it does not endorse any of these products.
Information on breastfeeding must be provided by skilled professionals who: (1) support the importance of breastfeeding and the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding”, (2) are themselves compliant with the International Code, and (3) are competent in the specific skills they are teaching.
It is appropriate for information regarding other forms of infant feeding to be provided by a skilled professional and not by sales personnel. In addition, the International Code does require that training and materials that include information on the use of infant formula and infant feeding bottles must also clearly indicate that breastfeeding and breast milk are the optimal forms of infant nutrition. We add that nothing in the training or materials may undermine this statement.
Regardless of the specific topic areas, all trainers and training programs should be free of conflicts of interest under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. To the extent that trainers and training programs have a conflict of interest, that conflict must be disclosed, and the facility shall take appropriate measures to mitigate such conflict.
Skilled professionals may not be employees or contractors of infant feeding products manufacturers or distributors and may include the following professionals:
- lactation care professionals;
- occupational therapists;
- physical therapists;
- developmental specialists;
- medical doctors; and
- speech/language pathologists.
No promotional logos, or any advertising for any infant feeding products, may be used on educational brochures, electronic applications or websites directed towards patients, unless specific to the individual patient’s needs.