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Baby food companies pry on ‘Amma’ sentiment in Covid times

A number of YouTube channels have prescribed lactating mothers to switch to formula in the wake of pandemic.

Published: 23rd May 2021 04:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd May 2021 04:19 AM   |  A+A-

breastfeeding

Representational image

Express News Service

CHENNAI: A number of YouTube channels have prescribed lactating mothers to switch to formula in the wake of pandemic. Jumping on this bandwagon, Danone India created a voice of experts on YouTube which promoted the brand and spread misinformation advising mothers to stay six feet away from their 
babies to refrain from breastfeeding.

These are in violation of the Infant Milk Substitutes Feeding Bottles, and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992, and Amendment Act, 2003 (IMS Act), according to a report launched on World Breastfeeding Day. The report is the result of monitoring IMS Act undertaken by Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) from January 2019 to May 2021. It has documented 33 such violations.

Dr Arun Gupta, Central coordinator of the BPNI, said, “The virus has not been known to pass through the placenta and it has not been reported to affect breastmilk of Covid positive mothers. But there have been cases where doctors are advising separation of child from the mother.”

Blaming social media and the lack of awareness among health practitioners, he says the government should bring this under Covid appropriate behaviour. During the pandemic, BPNI received reports from across the country about free distribution of baby foods to mothers by Nestle and others.

“As per section 5 (a) of the IMS Act, free donation and distribution of infant milk substitutes or infant foods to any other person, except to an orphanage, is prohibited,” the report states. Dr Vandana Prasad, a community pediatrician, says: “Equally problematic is the fact that nursing mothers are being unnecessarily discriminated against by the denial of vaccines.”



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