Trump blasts 'failing NY Times' over report on 'opposition' to breastfeeding measure

Trump administration threatened Ecuador over its support of breastfeeding resolution

President Trump rejected accusations on Monday from a New York Times report that said the US worked against a breastfeeding amendment at the World Health Assembly. The specific part of the resolution with which Americans officials reportedly took issue was the language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding", as well a passage that asked policymakers to no longer promote food that could have detrimental effects on the health of young children.

US President Donald Trump has previously expressed repugnance at the act of breastfeeding.

According to the Times report on Sunday based on interviews with dozens of meeting participants, USA negotiations in Geneva objected to the resolution encouraging breastfeeding around the world and allegedly resorted to intimidation tactics to bully other countries into dropping it.

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatised; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies".

The US$70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of US and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breastfeeding.

Baby formula companies have for decades sold more product in developing countries than developed ones, the Times reported, suggesting the United States policy was in line with companies' interests.

Patti Rundall, policy director for Baby Milk Action, told the Times that "We were astonished, appalled and also saddened".

Caitlin Oakley, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said it's "patently false" to portray the USA position as "anti-breastfeeding". The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

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The Americans did not threaten Moscow as they did Ecuador and other countries, according to the Times.

An Ecuadorian official added, "We were shocked because we didn't understand how such a small matter like breastfeeding could provoke such a dramatic response".

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement responding to the account of the resolution that the USA "has a long history of supporting mothers and breastfeeding around the world and is the largest bilateral donor of such foreign assistance programs".

The State Department declined to respond to questions, saying it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations.

A Chinese mother breastfeeds her baby in Wuhan. Washington is the single largest contributor to the health organisation, providing US$845 million, or roughly 15 per cent of its budget, last year.

But it's not the first time the Trump administration has gone head-to-head with WHO.

A Russian diplomat told the Times that his country's decision to advance the breastfeeding resolution was an easy one to make.

The resolution ultimately passed in a compromised form, removing language that called on the World Health Organization to support countries trying to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children".

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