Winter 1997 Newsletter INFACT Canada

Canadian Paediatric Society flogging formula again!

The forty-ninth World Health Assembly urges member states to take the following measures:

" ensure that the financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest..."

Profiting partnerships

Furious letters are hitting the desks of CPS supremos. "I am writing to express my dismay with the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) over its alliance with Mead Johnson in the distribution of the Peter Rabbit diaper bag with two tins of Enfalac concentrate..." writes a member of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"So the Canadian Paediatric Society has decided that part of its mandate is to help Mead Johnson sell formula!" writes another.

Breastfeeding activists across Canada were incensed by a letter tucked into the offending formula packs. Signed by CPS Executive VP, Victor Marchessault, the letter read, "Like all parents, you have countless questions about your baby's health and safety. That's why the Canadian Paediatric Society is pleased to work with Mead Johnson Canada to bring you vital infant care information."


Diarrhea from Ross

Designing diagnoses and treatments to meet marketing objectives is what a Ross-CPS partnership is all about. In a four-page flyer targeted at new parents in Alberta, the Ross-CPS promotion aims to re-educate parents about infant and young child diarrhea. However, diarrhea is hardly a problem for Canadian infants where breastfeeding is making a comeback. With no mention that breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed infants and the most effective way to prevent diarrhea, the flyer's content gives the topic a whole new meaning:

"Diarrhea is when stools are more watery and occur more often than usual:

However, breastfed babies have frequent, loose and soft stools. Does the Ross-CPS definition mean that every breastfed baby has diarrhea? Treatment recommendations are no better. It is here that the real intent of the flyer is obvious.

"As soon as diarrhea starts, give your child oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte [by Ross]

"If breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed on demand and (our emphasis) offer oral rehydration fluid (ORS) such as Pedialyte."

The Canadian Paediatric Society...

Yes, continue breastfeeding but the addition of ORS contravenes international recommendations. What impact will additional non-nutritive liquids, with no immunological protective constituents have on breastmilk supply and the severity of the infection? Further treatment recommendations make no mention of breastfeeding, although ORS is heavily promoted, and formula and whole milk are mentioned.

And what about the cost? The Ross ORS water comes at $10 to $12 per litre.

In a letter to the Nutrition Committee of the CPS, the Calgary Breastfeeding Matters Group writes, "We are most concerned that this brochure actually recommends specific products be used and identifies them by name. The Canadian Paediatric Society should not be responsible for direct product marketing to the consumer nor should it allow its name to be used to give credibility to a commercial product which is nutritionally inferior to breastmilk. This is ethically totally inappropriate." (Their emphasis.)



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