My sense is that much of the push for breastfeeding comes from the worldwide campaigns by UNICEF and other nutrition-oriented development programs which are thinking more about conditions in poorer countries (i.e. most of the world) than about the developed world. In Africa and Vietnam, for example, not only do you have the old problem of lack of access to clean water, which makes formula a problem; you also have the problem of substandard or fake baby formula, formula containing melamine-tainted Chinese milk powder, or, as Vietnam recently found, formula containing almost no protein and almost all fat. Meanwhile there’s tremendous poverty pressure on mothers to start working soon after childbirth, which pushes them to use formula or, as in Vietnamese culture, to start feeding their babies rice at 3 months (which is basically crazy). Because third-world governments tend to be weak and unable to do things like inspect the baby formula supply, the safest way to guarantee that babies around the world are reasonably well fed is to push for universal breastfeeding.
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