The WIC program promotes breastfeeding because it is a critical public health concern. Mother's milk should be the main source of nutrition for infants. Although feeding formula is viewed as culturally normal, the health risks are numerous.
Feeding formula places infants at greater risk for:
Not breastfeeding places women at greater risk for:
Mother's milk and formula are not the same. Mother's milk is specially designed to meet an infant's needs. The nutrients in breast milk promote brain growth and development, provide infection resistance and decrease the risk of childhood diseases.
The ingredients in formula are commercially processed from a variety of sources such as cow's milk protein, vegetable oils and algae. It lacks antibodies and other ingredients that are essential for optimal health. Even though formula tries to imitate mother's milk it fails to do so and increases food and health care costs for families.
Some women choose not to breastfeed but cannot afford to buy the formula their babies need. That is why WIC provides formula. In the past, poor infant outcomes have resulted from mothers trying to stretch the formula by over-diluting or using inappropriate substitutes such as evaporated milk. WIC tries to prevent these unsafe practices by providing a formula package which will meet most of the needs of the infants. Non-breastfeeding moms will need to prepare for the additional formula needs as their infant grows which will add significantly to the families food costs.
How WIC Promotes Breastfeeding
WIC has undertaken a number of initiatives to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding among women enrolled in the program:
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Ask Dr. Jack Newman Insight from a pediatrician and international lactation expert.