In its study, published in the Pediatrics journal, the CDC examined the prevalence the hospitals and birth centers distributing infant formula discharge packs to breastfeeding mothers in the US from 2007 to 2013.
Data from the Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (MPINC) survey - administered by the CDC every two years since 2007 - showed the number of US hospitals and birth centers distributing discharge packs containing samples of infant formula formula to breastfeeding mothers fell from 72.6% in 2007 to 31.6%.
Of the 2,659 hospitals and birth centers that completed the 2007 MPINC survey, 72.6% reported distributing infant formula discharge packs to breastfeeding mothers.
This figure fell to 65.8% in 2009 and 54.5% in 2011.
By 2013, just 31.6% of the 2,629 hospitals and birth centers that completed the MPINC survey reported distributing infant formula discharge packs to breastfeeding mothers.
Concluding, the CDC, whose Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) is committed to increasing breastfeeding rates in the US, said: “The distribution of infant formula discharge packs to breastfeeding mothers declined markedly from 2007 to 2013."
"Discontinuing the practice of distributing infant formula discharge packs is a part of optimal evidence-based maternity care to support mothers who want to breastfeed," it added.
America's largest infant formula manufacturers came under fire last year for providing samples for distribution at hospitals and birth centers.
In a petition delivered to Abbott Laboratories (Similac), Mead Johnson Nutrition (Enfamil) and Nestlé USA (Gerber), Public Citizen - a US consumer group - said the companies were failing to adhere to the principles of the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (WHO Code) by supplying infant formula samples to healthcare providers.
The WHO Code, first drafted by WHO in 1981, is designed to ensure the "protection and promotion of breast feeding."
Public Citizen said Abbott, Nestlé USA and Mead Johnson had specifically violated Article 5.2 ('Manufacturers and distributors should not provide, directly or indirectly, to pregnant women, mothers or members of their families, samples of products') and Article 6.2 ('No facility of a health care system should be used for the purpose of promoting infant formula') of the WHO Code.
The Infant Nutrition Council of America - then known as the International Formula Council - dismissed the claims, arguing no violations could have occurred because the principles of the WHO Code were never incorporated into US law.
Source: Pediatrics doi:10.1542/peds.2015-0093
Title: Trends of US Hospitals Distributing Infant Formula Packs to Breastfeeding Mothers, 2007 to 2013
Authors: Jennifer Nelson, Ruowei Li, Cria Perrine