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14 February 2022
UWC academics warn scientific journals against inappropriately advertising breast-milk substitutes
All scientific journals and publishers should stop accepting funding from manufacturers and distributors of breast-milk substitutes, in accordance with global public health guidance. Public health must come before profit.

This is the recommendation following research findings in a paper, Conflicts of interest are harming maternal and child health: time for scientific journals to end relationships with manufacturers of breast-milk substitutes, which was published today.
                 Professor Rina Swart

The three co-authors affiliated with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) are Professor Rina Swart, Extra-Ordinary Professor Tanya Doherty and current PhD candidate in Public Health and former lecturer at the university, Catherine Pereira-Kotze. 

The summary of the paper states that 40 years after the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes persists and puts infants and young children at risk of malnutrition, illness and death.

The formula industry is large and powerful and has used various ‘medical marketing’ strategies to influence scientists and health professionals as to the purported benefit of breast-milk substitutes.

The paper provides examples of how a manufacturer is using a leading scientific journal to market breast-milk substitutes through paid advertisements and advertisement features.

By receiving funding from breast-milk substitute manufacturers, journals create a conflict of interest, whereby the publisher and readers of the journal may favour corporations consciously or unconsciously in ways that undermine scientific integrity, editorial independence and clinical judgement.

Read the detailed document here.