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    Hospitals drop formula-marketing bags given to new moms upon discharge
    Maryland is the 4th state to take step in move that supports women who breastfeed
    Baltimore, MD (October 29, 2015) – All of Maryland’s 32 birthing hospitals are free of infant formula marketing in the form of company-sponsored discharge bags. Maryland is only the fourth state in the nation to make this change and joins Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Delaware in making this move to strengthen support for women who choose to breastfeed.
    “With changes like ‘banning the bags,’ we expect to see more mothers to try to exclusively feed their infants through breastfeeding,” said Dr. Howard Haft, Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “This provides better overall health outcomes for Marylanders and brings us closer to achieving national goals in this area.”
    Providing formula samples undermines mothers’ breastfeeding goals. Studies show that mothers who receive formula samples are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and that overall breastfeeding durations are shorter compared with mothers who do not receive the samples. Breastfeeding is shown to have significant health benefits for both babies and mothers. Formula discharge bags can imply to new families that hospitals endorse formula feeding and are recommending one brand in particular, thus providing free advertising for those companies.
    Formula companies have distributed samples to hospitals for years, and these formulas have been given to new mothers as gifts when leaving the hospital after delivery. Rather than receiving what can be seen as indirect endorsements of formula from hospital staff, mothers in all Maryland hospitals now will be provided with encouragement and support without marketing from formula manufacturers. 
    The elimination of formula discharge bag giveaways brings Maryland’s birthing hospitals in compliance with this best practice of Health and Mental Hygiene’s hospital breastfeeding policies and with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  Dr. Dana Silver, pediatrician at Sinai Hospital and vice president of the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, has been instrumental in the elimination of formula marketing from Maryland hospitals. “This move allows Maryland hospitals to put their smallest patients’ health first,” she said.
    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health and also works to help Marylanders make better health decisions for better health outcomes. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH and www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.