The AAP is not amused. In fact, they are right pissed off. They answered that in no uncertain terms are they severing ties to the formula manufacturers. But, why in the world not? Why wouldn't they sever a relationship with manufacturers that in several different ways sabotage women's breastfeeding relationship with their infants? Why wouldn't the AAP want to promote the absolute best food for infants--breast milk?
Follow the money...
There is a great post from Hoyden About Town, outlining how it all went down. Please go to her site to see it. I had it fully printed here, and at her request I've edited the piece. See it at her site and be amazed by the AAP's absurd reaction to Dr. Jay Gordon's practical joke. Further, be amazed at their list of sponsors and that they have no intention of severing ties with formula manufacturers.
Dr Jay Gordon is well known on Lactnet, as a passionate and knowledgeable breastfeeding advocate, and as a critic of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s policy of accepting infant formula company funding.
The AAP accepts sponsorship from McDonald’s, the National Dairy Council, Abbott, Gerber, Mead Johnson, Nestle, Pepsi, Playtex, the Corn Products Association, and a variety of pharmaceutical and chemical companies. A lot of people find this funding approach to be unethical, since the AAP is, as they claim, “Dedicated to the health of all children”. (There seems to be an asterisk at the end of that statement on their website, but I can’t see a footnote anywhere.)
The AAP’s history of accepting formula and pharmaceutical funding for conferences, undermining the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign at the behest of formula companies, and allowing infant formula logos to be placed on A New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding are well documented. When the AAP was contacted by a group of their own pediatricians about the formula logo, they were uninterested, citing financial issues. The AAP also put out “Nestlé Nutrition Centre” advertisements in the header of Table of Contents emails for their flagship journal, Pediatrics.
These facts are not contested, to the best of my knowledge, by the organisation. Nor do they contest the fact that the feeding of breastmilk substitutes has harmed millions of children; again, this is very well documented. Every day, more than 4,000 babies die because they’re not breastfed. (Yes, some of these dead babies are even in America.)
The tide is turning - very slowly. Gradually, even doctors themselves are starting to realise that industry sponsorship is often unethical and inappropriate, and it has been shown over and over that it influences practice - though most doctors like to think they are mysteriously immune. Two weeks ago the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published “Professional Medical Associations and Their Relationships With Industry: A Proposal for Controlling Conflict of Interest“, co-signed by a large number of different doctors, including a past president of the AAP. The article identified areas of conflict of interest, and asserted that sacrifice is required by professional medical associations in order to maintain integrity. [JAMA. 2009;301(13):1367-1372]
The First Email
On April First, this post appeared on Lactnet, clearly marked as coming from Dr Jay Gordon.
American Academy of Pediatrics—For Immediate Release
Dr. David T. Tayloe, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics which represents 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists has announced that it is severing all ties with the infant formula industry.
“This method of feeding substitution has harmed millions of children both in America and throughout the world and we pediatricians can no longer continue our relationship with the manufacturers of infant formula.” said Dr. Tayloe, who assumed the post of AAP President in October of 2008.
“Our alliance with the pharmaceutical industry is unethical. Our accepting millions of dollars and continuing to allow these business people to influence our policies while sponsoring our speakers, conferences and conventions is an ongoing embarrassment and we will end this ethical problem right now.”
“Further, I would like to apologize for our past mistakes involving the breastfeeding advertisement campaign and allowing the maker of Similac infant formula to print its corporate logo on the cover of a special edition of the academy’s book on breastfeeding.”
“Again, I can cannot express enough regret and can assure you that the AAP will immediately seek compliance with the WHO Code and will promote the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.”
David T. Tayloe, MD, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics
April 1, 2009
Read more to see how it all turns out...