Trump says the U.S. is not against breastfeeding, calls New York Times story ‘fake news’


The U.S. opposed a World Health Assembly resolution to encourage breastfeeding because it called for limits on the promotion of infant formula, not because of objections to breastfeeding, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday.


Calling it “Fake News,” Trump criticized a New York Times story reporting that U.S. officials sought to remove language that urged governments to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, along with language calling on policymakers to limit the promotion of food products, such as infant formula, that can be harmful to young children.

The Times reported that the U.S. effort this spring during the United Nations-affiliated world health meeting was largely unsuccessful and that most of the original wording remained.

Trump wrote, “The U.S. strongly supports breastfeeding but we don’t believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty.”

The Times reported that the U.S. delegation embraced the interests of infant-formula manufacturers.

Elisabeth Sterken of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada told The Canadian Press she was among the official observers in Geneva, where the prolonged debate on the breastfeeding resolution occurred.  

Sterken says she was encouraged by how strongly many countries resisted the U.S. bid. She also praised Canada for doing its part to champion breastfeeding initiatives.

Government doctors and scientists have long called attention to the health benefits of breastfeeding, both in economically advanced countries and developing nations.

A 2011 surgeon general’s report concluded that “breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children.”

Caitlin Oakley, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said it’s “patently false” to portray the U.S. position as “anti-breastfeeding.”

The administration also denied that U.S. officials had threatened trade sanctions in the debate over the breastfeeding resolution.

The New York Times story said the U.S. forced Ecuador, the resolution’s sponsor, to drop the proposal.

The resolution was eventually passed when Russia sponsored another version that largely resisted U.S. demands, the Times reported.