Pediatricians’ Interactions with Infant Formula Companies


New Rochelle, NY, March 1, 2023—Most pediatricians reported receiving a visit (85%) from an infant formula company representative and free formula samples (90%). These visits could influence the advice pediatricians give to mothers who had planned to exclusively breastfeed, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Breastfeeding MedicineClick here to read the article now.


Kelly Werner, MD, MHS, from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and coauthors, distributed an electronic survey to U.S. pediatricians asking about interactions with infant formula companies and breastfeeding practices.


The investigators found that infant formula company representatives were more likely to visit and sponsor meals for pediatricians at private practices and in higher-income, suburban areas, which also had higher exclusive breastfeeding rates.


In an accompanying Editorial, Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, quotes a recent statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics on the subject of the potential influence of product promotion on physician decision making process: “The marketing divisions of pharmaceutical and medical device firms view health care clinicians as targets of their efforts, and some of the interactions that occur between the industry and health care clinicians have the potential to alter decision making in ways that may not necessarily benefit patients. Health care clinicians have an ethical duty to recognize situations and marketing strategies that are designed to influence their choice of diagnostic and therapeutic options for their patients. At a minimum, health care clinicians should be aware of the techniques used to attempt to alter their behavior and guard against them.”


Dr. Eidelman adds, “We should be concerned regarding the potential negative impact secondary to the interaction of manufacturers’ representatives with physicians in practice, remembering that ‘there are no free lunches’ and that in the end, someone pays the bill.”


About the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) is a worldwide organization of medical doctors dedicated to the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding. Our mission is to unite members of the various medical specialties with this common purpose.  For more than 20 years, ABM has been bringing doctors together to provide evidence-based solutions to the challenges facing breastfeeding across the globe. A vast body of research has demonstrated significant nutritional, physiological, and psychological benefits for both mothers and children that last well beyond infancy. But while breastfeeding is the foundation of a lifetime of health and well-being, clinical practice lags behind scientific evidence. By building on our legacy of research into this field and sharing it with the broader medical community, we can overcome barriers, influence health policies, and change behaviors.


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