Toronto East General Hospital Baby-Friendly Progress: No more free formula
In an interview with INFACT Canada, Natalie Cournoyea, Director of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Service at the Toronto East General Hospital, was pleased to report that her hospital is no longer accepting free formula supplies.
"This policy has the support of the CEO and the Vice President of the Hospital and it was not a huge amount of money because it (formula) was only for the nursery when medically indicated."
As part of a concerted effort for the hospital to be breastfeeding friendly, and receive the Baby-Friendly Initiative designation, Ms. Cournoyea has spearheaded a number of key measures: nurses have been trained in breastfeeding support; four Baby-Friendly Initiative rounds have been organized for both the pediatricians and for the obstetricians; all support staff such as ward aids and cleaning staff have received breastfeeding support training; and a walk-about was done to ensure that the hospital has no artificial feeding images or promotions.
When asked how this was impacting on breastfeeding discharge rates, Ms Cournoyea noted that the rates were steadily rising month by month. From January to May of this year the three month continuous rate for exclusive breastfeeding on discharge had risen from 59 to 72 per cent. Great work by the TEGH staff and administration!!
Health Canada ignores concerns about
Vitamin D supplementation
INFACT Canada and our members have taken aim at Health Canada’s recommendation regarding vitamin D supplementation in breastfed infants. In response to INFACT Canada’s letter, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, wrote:
"Health Canada’s recommendation to supplement breastfed infants with 400 IU/day is based on a scientific review by the Institute of Medicine and advice from the Health Canada’s Dietary Reference Intake Expert Advisory Committee and leading vitamin D experts. A comment period was held in the spring of 2004, where stakeholders had an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft recommendation. A total of 60 stakeholders, including INFACT, responded. The comments received were carefully reviewed and considered in finalizing the recommendation and supporting materials."
One of INFACT’s specific concerns is that this blanket recommendation ignores the fact that the vast majority of breastfed infants do not require supplementation of a potentially toxic hormone. Sadly, in the end, it all comes down to dollars. It’s much more cost effective to recommend supplementation for all breastfed babies (and more lucrative for Mead Johnson, maker of the most popular brand of Vitamin D) than to screen for those who actually need it. Mr. Dosanjh wrote,
"A population health approach to vitamin D supplementation is warranted because it is not practical nor cost-effective to screen all mothers and infants to determine whether they are vitamin D deficient or at risk for vitamin D deficiency."
Canada’s Labour Code in Review
The Government of Canada is holding public hearings across Canada in the Fall of 2005 to review the Labour Standards in Canada’s Labour Code. These hearings provide breastfeeding advocates with an opportunity to request that the enhanced International Labour Organization (ILO) standards for breastfeeding protection be incorporated into Canadian labour standards. The ILO standards call for paid nursing breaks and other accommodations for working mothers and would give crucial support for sustaining exclusive breastfeeding when mothers go to work and for continuing breastfeeding to two years.
For more information, submission guidelines and the public hearing schedule, visit the Federal Labour Standards Review website at http://fls-ntf.gc.ca/en/index.asp or call toll-free 1-866-660-0344. For more on the ILO’s recommendations, go to www.ilo.org
Help make breastfeeding a public
health goal for all Canadians
The Federal, provincial and territorial governments have embarked on a national consultation process to define Canada’s public health goals. This is a great opportunity to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding as a public health issue. Please take five minutes to complete an e-survey posted on the website of the Public Health Agency for Canada at www.healthycanadians.ca
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