Government support for breastfeeding

 

Sir, – In response to Joanne Hunt’s article, featuring Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin (“We shouldn’t leave it to industry to say what’s best for your child”, September 18th) we also wish to highlight the problematic relationship Ireland has with formula companies in Ireland.

We, as general practitioners, are incredibly disappointed by the total absence of breastmilk from the key dietary recommendations from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for one to five year-olds. This is contrary to World Health Organisation guidelines which encourage breastfeeding up to two years and beyond for a range of health benefits to children. Despite numerous complaints from medical doctors, no updates to the guidelines were made.

The FSAI claimed, in response, that it is pro breastfeeding but unfortunately, the first reference to breastfeeding is on page 18. This is totally inadequate from an organisation that purports to support breastfeeding.

With Ireland experiencing some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe, the current FSAI guidelines, and more recently, the controversial appointment of a senior director of Danone Ireland, Claire Mac Evilly, to the advisory committee of Safefood only work to further undermine breastfeeding.

Through the actions of both the FSAI and Safefood Ireland we have not conformed to the WHO’s Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and left ourselves open to further exploitation by formula companies. If we are really to take breastfeeding seriously, strict enactment and monitoring of legislation would protect Breastfeeding from manipulative marketing.

Our Government and State bodies can do better to protect, support and promote breastfeeding.

– Yours, etc,

Dr NIAMH KIERNAN

McCONNELL

and GP Infant Feeding Network Ireland Members.

Dr Sarah Brennan, Dr Lisa McNamee, Dr Gabriela Socol, Dr Bernadette Finneran, Dr Cliodhna Ní­ Mhurchu, Dr Aisling Quinn, Dr Niamh Moran, Dr Cliona Buckley, Dr Karen Given, Dr Emma Harrington, Dr Deirdre Searson, Dr Brona Walsh, Dr Claire Gleeson, Dr Niamh Moran, Dr Mary Doyle

And

Dr John Travers, Dr Shona Browne, Dr Maria Tempany, Dr Fiachra Lambe, Dr Sean Owens, Dr Michelle L. Smith, Dr Helen Fitzpatrick, Dr Niamh O’Shea, Dr Barry O’Flanagan, Dr Marita Hennessy PhD