Controversial Breastfeeding Ads Toned Down

Infant formula industry forced government to tone down breastfeeding campaign.

ByABC News via via logo

Sept. 1, 2007 — -- A series of advertisements advocating breastfeeding that you were never meant to see feature inhalers and syringes designed to look like baby bottles accompanied by statistics about the health risks of not breastfeeding.

Even without the ads, the debate over whether to breast-feed or use formula is a controversial issue that many women take personally.

"One of the worst things you can do is to force or coerce or cause a woman to breast-feed when she really doesn't want to, because that's a recipe for disaster," said Dr. Myron Peterson, director of medical affairs at the Cato Institute.

After viewing the ads, one mother who breast-feeds, Ashley Clark, said, "I can see the controversy in the syringes and the inhalers, I also think things don't get accomplished without controversy."

But not all moms who breast-feed agree.

"I don't think that necessarily promoting guilt to try to make women breast-feed is necessarily the answer," said Julie O'Daly, another breast-feeding mother.

The formula industry agreed, claiming the images were too graphic and riddled with medical inaccuracies.

In a statement, the International Formula Council said: "We wanted to ensure that the content of the campaign was scientifically accurate ... This is misleading and not fair to moms. Such negative images cause unjustified fear and guilt by moms who cannot or choose not to breastfeed."

Facing pressure from the baby formula industry, the ad campaign has been redrafted and the controversial images replaced.

But even though the images have changed, the age old breast-feeding debate continues.

"I don't think there's any alternative to breast-feeding; it's the perfect milk, it's the only milk -- human milk for human babies," Clark said.

Were the advertisements too much? Tell us what you think in our comments section of this page.

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