The US Government Wants Your Kids to Be Sick

***Queen edit: Karen sent me the link to the ads, old and new, for you to see. What do you think-scare tactic or hard hitting?***

I’m absolutely through the ROOF on this one. The Washington Post is reporting today breastfeeding ads by federal health officials were CENSORED to blow smoke up the formula lobby’s ass. DESPITE THE FACT THIS DIRECTLY AFFECTS THE HEALTH OF OUR CHILDREN.
The formula lobby HIRED the FORMER CHAIRMAN of the REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE to fight what was to be a really strong campaign to show women just what might happen to their kids if they chose NOT to breastfeed.

Heath and Human Services HIRED an ad agency who came up with the spots (showing inhalers and insulin syringes) and when FORCED to tone them down the ad agency warned the new ads would NOT be effective. And guess what???? “The milder campaign HHS eventually used had no discernible impact on the nation’s breast-feeding rate, which lags behind the rate in many European countries.”

As if that isn’t bad enough, some of the GOOD people at HHS tried to get the word out anyway when a new study appeared further confirming the dire need to raise US breastfeeding rates,

“A top HHS official said that at the time, Suzanne Haynes, an epidemiologist and senior science adviser for the department’s Office on Women’s Health, argued strongly in favor of promoting the new conclusions in the media and among medical professionals. But her office, which commissioned the report, was specifically instructed by political appointees not to disseminate a news release.”

The United States government PURPOSEFULLY and KNOWINGLY just tried to FUCK your kids.
I’m beyond full of rage. I am beyond upset. I am beyond writing a few letters. I’ll be contacting Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who is leading the committee looking into this, and I’m demanding -DEMANDING an apology from those in charge. I want assurances this never happens again and I want to know, from the f’ing President himself that they are actually trying to HELP my children, not harm them.

Politics just directly messed with my family. You can talk about education and politics and social services and politics-all very important. To me this really brings corruption in our government to a whole new level. This is HEALTH. THE HEALTH of the CHILDREN in this COUNTRY. The actual LIFE AND DEATH of millions of American kids.

I’m not being over dramatic. I’ve just HAD IT. I’m done sitting on the sidelines.

I won’t be painted as some crazy lactavist either. Now I’m a Mom who just watched Lobbiest SCREW families. ON PURPOSE. I’m not naive, I know this happens all the time up there in DC. But SWEET MOTHER OF GOD you just REPRESSED information that could SAVE children’s lives.

You’re going down. I’m going to make sure of it. The sick fucks in the formula industry and their Republican cronies are about to get a Queen style ass-whuppin.

This has nothing to do with “ability” to breastfeed or “what works for your family.” This is called PROPAGANDA from big business and I’m done tolerating it. Done. is the email if you’d like to help plan.

I would like to see mothers of formula fed kids on here too. They snowed your asses as well and you should be pissed. This isn’t about breast vs. bottle. This is about the US government tricking you. Lying to you. And failing to serve you. Bowing to the almighty lobby and dollar at the COST OF YOUR CHILDRENS’ HEALTH AND WELL BEING. Don’t forget, they serve you. Make them do their fucking jobs.



  1. Amen, sister!
    100% there with you.

  2. I don’t know. I breastfed my youngest for more than a year & advocate that breast is best – but I saw those original ads, and I thought they were offensive. I’m against scare tactics in advertising in general. I don’t think they work. I’d rather see the millions of dollars that went into that campaign go to fund grass-roots educational efforts and government-subsidized breastfeeding support groups. Robey was born in Tucson, and the hospital there had a weekly support group for breastfeeding mothers that I loved. Every hospital should have something similar.

  3. This is what happens when you put the fox (no pun intended) in charge of the hen house…

  4. Yup. The powers that be (both sides of the aisle) are more than willing to put the almighty dollar ahead of our welfare. You want to get more pissed? Read about how gov’t subsidizing and sugar tarris of corn farmers has lead to the ubiquitousness of high fructose corn syrup (really effing bad for you) and the role Archer Daniels Midlands played in the whole situation. And the bazillions of dollars ADM is making at the expense of our health, and yet with our tax dollars.

  5. I think this is important. When I had my son almost 12 years ago, I was told by all the nurses that I had to decide during labor whether or not I would breastfeed. I was 19 years old and had no one to educate me on the subject. I was encouraged to use formula because “it is easier” but the nurses. During my C Section I was given “the shot” to dry up my milk, and when I came to and was a little less hormonal and changed my mind I had no choice. It broke my heart. My son did have asthma, and was in and out of the hospital until he was about 2 year old.

  6. First of all I love your blog, I think that breastfeeding is best, but honestly the argument that you are presenting that the government is making my kids sick is flawed in its base logic, thus rendering the argument invalid as a whole.
    It has been shown that breastfeeding has wonderful positive effects, But why does the government have go into “scare tactics”.
    One problem with advertising today is that there is too much of it. The average American is exposed to over 3000 ads every day.
    I agree with Alison, tax dollars should be spent on programs that have proven results.
    But hey I am all for anything that gets you fired up enough to show off your wonderful breasts 😉 You go girl!!!

  7. While I am not thrilled with the government bowing to lobbyists, I agree with some of the comments here that those ads were not a good way to promote breastfeeding. My friend Alex has an excellent post on this at Formula Fed & Flexible Parenting, which does a much better job than I can do of outlining why. But I will say this: my friend who lives in London was telling me about a woman in her mommy group. The woman’s baby was solely breastfed and continuously underweight. When my friend suggested that she supplement with some formula, the woman reacted as if my friend suggested that she give her baby rat poison. And that’s exactly what these ads suggest. Of course breastfeeding is best, but it is not productive to scare people into doing it. Women should choose to do it because they want to, not because they are cowed and brow beaten and guilt tripped and harassed into it. That’s counter-productive.

  8. Sorry, I must vehemtly disagree. No, not with The Queen of Spain’s post, but with the commentors who feel a woman should not be scared into breastfeeding. In a less selfish world, that would be true. But right here, right now, we need to get as many new moms breastfeeding as possible. If that means we have to scare them into it until enough women do it that it reaches critical mass and is considered the norm and women are harrassed in restaurants to “cover up that formula, it’s indecent!” then that is what needs to happen.

    Women are being tricked, lied to and perhaps most importanlty, placated, when they are told formula is as good, or almost as good as nursing. It’s not. It will keep your baby alive, and of course not all babies will fail to thrive or be sick, but it is not as good. It just isn’t. And there are significant health benefits for women, too. That is extremely important information that gets bandied about, but largely glossed over. You will significantly cut your risk of serious cancers by breastfeeding. Cancers that are killing women at alarming rates. So not only is the government willing to put the health of our kids at risk by kowtowing to lobbyists, they are also risking the health of millions of American women. But I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. The health and welfare of women has never been a priority of those who tend to be in charge of this country.

    Yes, breastfeeding can be inconvenient at times. Many things are inconvenient at times but we manage to do them. Yes, it can be hard to get started and uncomfortable or even painful in the beginning. Some of those babies that we’re talking about were hard to get here. But being inconvenienced and going through discomfort for fertility treatments seems to be okay, but not being bothered to breastfeed if it takes any effort. How many women who complain about the pain of breastfeeding and give up would keep wearing a pair of terribly painful but great looking shoes?

    It is just plain irresponsible to not breastfeed if you have the ability. And almost every woman has the ability. The true inability to nurse is extremely rare. Too many women are told to “do what’s best for you and your family.” They should be told that formula is a last resort, that breastfeeding is normal, it can be hard to start but easy later on, and it is without question in almost all cases what is best for the baby and therefore what is best for your family.

    So maybe being scared and being offended by the ads might be a good thing. We are so afraid of being offended. To me it’s much more offensive that our government would put so many women and children’s health at risk because of corporate interests.

    Sorry I was so long winded, Queen, especially since I’ve never posted here before, but I feel a little strongly about this subject!

  9. I’m not in the USA so I’m a bit out of the loop. However I know I was made to feel like a leper after I lost my milk at 4 months with both of my kids. It’s bad enough that I felt like a failure, and was heartbroken. I never believed for a minute that the crap in a tin was anywhere near as good as breastmilk.

    And to find out that if ANYONE had LISTENED to me, or CARED enough to help…… there was a simple solution and my milk would have never dried up, nearly killed me. The Nursing Mothers Ass here in Oz needs a whip taken to them.

    If you can find a way to make it happen, go for it. I dont know that there is much I can do to help, but I’m willing.

    Yvonne xoxoxox

  10. Queen of Spain says:

    I didn’t see the ads as scare tactics at all. I think they were truthful and just as “scary” as showing what smoking can do to you or what obesity does to children. And we are a hard to win over group of people. Putting the idea in our heads that formula is just fine and just as good, when clearly it is not, is the work an industry. Showing what can happen if chose not to breastfeed is truth. I may feed my kids a happy meal here and there, and its TRUE that I KNOW its bad for them, and reminding me how bad it is for them is not a scare tactic. Its not ANIThappy meal. Its TRUTH.

    And this is not about bullying. Its about misinformation. Its about being given all the facts. And its about our US government keeping things from us to make and industry, that already has you thinking they are just peachy keen, happy.

    I think some strong advertising is just what the doctor ordered since many of you still seem under the spell of the formula industry.

    Do we need more than ads? Of course, but ads are not a bad way to start with consumer crazed Americans.

  11. Well, when Americans get over the fact that the sight of a breast-feeding mother is not offensive or pornographic, then it’ll be easier to have positive and more educational commercials.

  12. I share the outrage expressed by many here that the pharmaceutical lobby can buy health policy, but I am also outraged by the content of those ads. They are hyperbolic, and they reinforce the pain and guilt faced by mothers who have no alternative but to formula feed. I switched to formula when my La Leche League member breast consultant told me that she believed I was not physically capable of breastfeeding, and I still felt a great deal of guilt. That is one reason why I don’t appreciate the comparison between formula and nicotene. They are leagues apart.

    Arguing that scare tactic ads are effective does not make them appropriate. Why stop with ads. Why not arrest formula feeding mothers?

    I do agree that current support for breastfeeding is deplorable. If we create a society where women who choose to breastfeed have the support they need to do so, we can be better positioned to figure out how to help those who aren’t educated on the benefits of that choice.

  13. Comparing formula feeding to smoking is spurious at best. Smoking has a very direct link to lung cancer and all manner of other horrible ills. Formula feeding does not kill babies. In some cases, it saves their lives. Do we want babies to starve to death if their moms can’t produce enough breast milk because they are afraid to supplement? I think that is pretty counter-productive to promoting infant health and wellness. And it does happen. I know enough babies who have been rushed to emergency rooms for dramatic weight loss. Further, what about adoptive moms? How about moms who had mastectomies? They are not deserving of ads that insinuate that they are killing their babies. Sure, some can go to breast milk banks, but those are not as common as needed and expensive.

    We need to real support to encourage women to breastfeed. We need help lines for lactation consultation when the going gets tough. We need FREE lactation consulting beyond when moms take babies home from the hospital. We need laws allowing women to breastfeed in public. We need maternity policies that support working mothers.

    This specific ad campaign didn’t address many of the underlying issues that prevent women from breastfeeding. It also refuses to acknowledge that some women can’t. Are those mothers evil? Flat out, comparing formula – which may not be as great as breast milk but certainly sustains life – to a product that promotes death is unfair and biased.

  14. Queen of Spain says:

    So if we don’t shock women into seeing breastfeeding as the best option…what do we do? How do you reach these women? What kind of “grass roots” outreach are we discussing here? We can’t even get the government to promote to the media a study that shows the benefits.

    I don’t think anyone is talking about beating formula mothers here. I don’t think anyone is talking about cases in which breast is not possible. I think you feel guilt because you know it would be great if it were breast milk, but its not. The same way I feel guilt when I know I should be giving them a carrot and not a french fry. The french fry keeps them alive but the carrot is a whole lot better. The carrot is good for them, while the french fry may or may not cause them issues later in life.

  15. Queen of Spain says:

    …and just reviewing my comment up there…I talked about smoking and obesity. I didn’t say hey nicotine is like formula.

    You guys are so worried about someone jumping on a formula mom you’re missing the points. This has nothing to do with mothers who have no choice. I’m sure the formula companies love that we’re beating eachother up over those who can and those who can’t breastfeed instead of addressing their gross lobby.

    And I compared the ads and how ads are used. In public health issues I think some shock can work. I think it has worked. Is formula feeding like smoking? Of course not. Were those really good ads that got people to pay attention? TOtally.

  16. I am a bio mom and an adoptive mom. I induced lactation for my adoptive daughter. I had a friend that gave me any extra drop of frozen milk she add, to make sure my daughter got all of the mommy milk that she possibly could. I have friends who could not produce any milk through induction, but allowed their babies all of the added benefits of suckling for comfort, or using formula with lactation aids – so baby was supplemented AND was on the breast at the same time. Those babies received enormous benefits being at breast, even if they didn’t get an ounce of breast milk.

    There’s so much more to breastfeeding than the actual milk itself. How many women know that? How many women (much less, DOCTORS!) know what a lactation aid is, how it works, and how it can bring many of the benefits of breastfeeding to sick, special needs or adopted babies? How many women know that you can breastfeed with only one breast? How many women know that if they get stressed, take medication, have surgery, etc., a lactation aid can help to induce (or re-induce) lactation in many cases?

    If they knew the hard truth about the added risks of formula feeding, they would demand it. Then, they would be really ticked off, like I was, to find out many of the answers are already there. The “experts” don’t talk about them.

    I COMPLETELY support these ads. I was a mother who had very little support with my first child. I weaned her at an early age. I needed more information. If I had the truth in front of me, I would have spent more time seeking out the help … I would have tried harder.

    If the truth were spoken more harshly and openly, more women would wet nurse (many do in the US today, but have to stay in the closet with it, because people think it’s weird – how weird is THAT?!?). Every baby in the U.S. truly could be breastfed (through lactation aids, donated milk or wet nursing). It actually is possible.

    Darr, you hit the nail on the head. Beautiful comment.

    It seems that some on here are strongly defending a very tiny minority (those that truly cannot breastfeed). The target audience for these ads are those that choose formula instead of trying harder. I was one of those. I have since learned the truth, and it makes me feel horrible today when I think of how I deprived my first born. I’m angry that I didn’t hear or see the truth BEFORE she was born. YES, IT MAKES ME FEEL REALLY BAD! I made a mistake. My child deserved to have her mother face the facts … the actual reality. I should feel bad. No one should coddle me in that area. I’m a good mom, but I should have breastfed my child longer. Period.

    Lots of women are put on bedrest during pregnancy. People bring them meals, and books on tape, and offer housekeeping or babysitting of older siblings during those times. If a mother and baby are having difficulty breastfeeding, we should react the same way: “Stay at home, keep that baby on breast, and let us help you. Everything else can wait. You need to be on post-pardum bedrest!!” It shouldn’t be important. It should be vital!

    Ahhhh … okay … now I’m using your comment section to post! SORRY!!!!! I’ll shut my yapper.

  17. I was not supported as a nursing mother at my job.

    If the government sees fit to mandate that Breast is Best, then they need to be prepared to mandate MAJOR POLICY OVERHAULS among business–both large and small. And they need to be prepared to have a major Maternity Leave overhaul. And they need to be prepared to help working mothers also stay nursing mothers.

    In my own experience, I had such a difficult time nursing. Physically, I just couldn’t produce enough milk. I sought help through several wonderful lactation consultants and wound up taking Reglan despite published warnings against women with a history depression. But I was dedicated. But I was also a working mom who was ‘ALLOWED’ to pump only 3x a day–IN A CLOSET. I couldn’t afford an extended leave and because I need the income, I left my son at just 2.5 months to go back to work.

    My son was a formula baby from about 5 months of age. Formula is not evil. But I wholly believe that if this country’s government really did care about the so-called Family Values it loves to yap about, then women would receive similar family leaves as Canada and most of Europe. Hospitals could afford to staff with qualified and helpful lactation consultants, insurance would cover lactation consultants, women would be supported by their employers and the government would mandate a change in policy regarding short-term disability (because childbirth, it’s a disability?) and maternity leave and telecommuting or flexible work hours for working mothers.

    Have all these assholes in DC forgotten who raised them?

    (Clearly. This infuriates me. But, I bottle-fed my son. I have no issue with formula. I take great umbrage with a system that sees fit to mandate one thing but act in an entirely different manner.)

  18. My children were adopted well into toddlerhood, so there was no breastfeeding, but no asthma, no allergies, and no ear infections either. Both are bright boys.

    I find the scare tactics offensive, yet another tool in the mommy wars, guaranteed to make only those women who could not breastfeed feel more guilty and hard on themselves.

    No, I’m not pleased to hear about any lobbying group successfully manipulating the debate, but I would have been pretty disgusted to see those ads, knowing that they are just as exaggerated as any negative political ad, or “parental scare of the week” segment on your local Fox news.

    I find this as hyperbolic as the Attachment Parenting people claiming that I risk raising sons who are sociopaths because I did not carry them in a sling.

  19. Queen of Spain says:

    “babies were are not breastfed are 250% more likely to develop respiratory disease”

    I’m just not sure how that translates into some political coup by the Attachment Parenting types.

    Facts are facts. Why sugar coat them? Would you be as offended if you saw ads like this pertaining to obesity in children? Or would that be ok?

  20. I suggest any that doubts the benefits of breastfeeding , or likes to play the ‘my kids weren’t breastfed and are jsut fine” card takes a look at a few things. Look at the numbers of breastfeeding moms in the last 50 years. Then look at the rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc… in America. Sure, your child might be perfectly healthy. But your one child does not make or break the national average.

    I’m with you Queen. They need to work for the people, not the $$$

  21. I am all for breastfeeding but come on already. Trying to scare women into breastfeeding is not going to work. Let’s tone it down a bit. The reason for the abysmal rate of extended breastfeeding is because we as a country need to give women more maternity leave and we need to allow women to pump at work with out making them feel like they are wasting time.

  22. But as long as we are told “formula is just as good” and as long as women are willing to take what they get companies won’t have to give more maturnity leave or a place to pump. Why should they? The majority of moms just use formula soif you’re an inconvenience they’ll find another mom who won’t be. Get pissed! Get angry! Get pumped up! The more moms that understand what is at stake by not breastfeeding the more moms will be putting pressure to get what they need.

  23. In considering later health issues like obesity, heart disease, asthma, etc., I’d be willing to bet that the 250% figure you quoted did not take into account other factors such as later diet, excercise, hours of TV viewing, and other environmental concerns beyond the families’ control. Instead it puts the blame entirely on the mother.

    It’s just another way of infantilizing women, saying to them “we don’t trust you to do the best you can.” I think the scare tactics are only going to hit the women who tried and failed.

    I never had an infant, so maybe I missed all those ads encouraging breastfeeding in a positive, healthful, bond with your baby kind of way. I agree that breastfeeding should be promoted, and I think it is beyond shameful that the report was buried (this, actually, may be the most important part of your post and your future efforts). I just really disagree that scare tactics are the best way to reach out to new mothers. We’re scared enough.

    I think some of the more positive suggestions: hospital guidance, lactivation consultants, tax breaks for family-friendly maternity leave policies, would be far more effective.

  24. Queen of Spain says:

    That figure is from the Ads-you know…the study that was “buried.”

  25. So I’ve been mulling this over, and I just can’t buy into the usefulness of the ads without major policy changes to support women and breastfeeding. I don’t know anyone, anywhere who ever says that breastfeeding is not the best. I think that we all agree on that. The key is how to make it happen. When at least ten states ban breastfeeding in public, it is pretty hard to breastfeed. On top of that, even though no should feel ashamed of breastfeeding in public, many women do, and yet there are not many options for women who want a semi-private, comfortable clean space when they are out with their babies. On top of that, there is nowhere near enough support for those times when the baby is crying and crying and can’t latch on. And then there’s the trick of working mothers. When do women in service industries get time off to pump?

    Scaring women into breastfeeding is only effective when women can actually make good on the opportunity to breastfeed. Otherwise, it just leaves people feeling worse about their parenting skills in situations where their opportunities are severely constrained. I think that’s the reality many women face, and in many cases, why some women who would breastfeed are not doing so. Ads alone can’t change that, but public campaigns can and should.

  26. I still think breast milk is best for babies. However, we can’t just force someone to believe the facts, especially if they have a different belief.

  27. Sorry, but I don’t believe a lot of what’s being said and I don’t have any “medical” proof or “scientific” proof, but then look how the goverments fooled you with that.

    All I have is my own personal proof. I have two children. My oldest was breastfed for about 5 days. He has NO health problems whatsoever. My youngest was breastfed for almost 6 months and has allergies and asthma up the yang and was always sick as a child and in the hosptial twice!!

    Now, for more “whateveryouwanttocallit” proof… I run a daycare and my helper and I just roll our eyes when a breastfed child enrolls because we know they’ll be the sickest kids at daycare. Sorry, but it’s true… or, is it a coincidence?

    I don’t believe in the studies because they’re not foolproof!!!

    I’m SO sick of this breast/formula debate… why don’t women just do what’s right for THEM and everyone else mind their own darn business!

  28. I agree with campaigns about breastfeeding and I thinks it would be fair if they let the people decide for themselves. We can’t force people to change their minds by adding meaning to tv adds.

  29. I’m concerned about the 250 percent. I haven’t had time to read the entire study (it’s 415 pages), but I searched for the figure and found nothing. I read through the respiratory and asthma sections and found nothing that used a figure of 250 percent.

    The study began with this, though: Because almost all the data in this review were gathered from observational studies, one should not infer causality based on these findings. Also, there is a wide range of quality of the body of evidence across different health outcomes.

    This study probably has some useful information, but just like all studies and statistics, it could be used as a guide but certainly not the absolute last word on anything. It even says as much.

    I disagree that women need to be scared by yet another of the umpteen-million things they’re held responsible for regarding the health and welfare of their children. American mothers and fathers are doing the best they can in one of the least family-friendly countries in the world. It’s not mothers who need to be targeted, it’s the community at large.

    European countries have wide “community support” for breastfeeding, which contributes to the high percentage of mothers who breastfeed there. They offer support through midwives, physicians, pediatricians and also through an unheard-of-in-America generous family leave of one year, sometimes up to two or more years. (Reducing the need or even the thought of having breastpumps in the workplace.) They generally have shorter workweeks and paid vacation time so family support is greater with the other parent and family members available if they live nearby.

    Anyway … it’s a very complex issue, and I think these advertisements (either the scary ones or the toned-down ones) will solve anything. All it will do is allow people who might be in a position to work for meaningful change to say that they “did something” to help.

  30. Oops. Last paragraph should read: “I think these advertisements will solve nothing.”

  31. What exactly is a scare tactic? If the information is unquestionably true is it still a scare tactic?

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