Mayor Bloomberg has demanded that hospitals stop handing out baby formula to persuade more new mothers to breastfeed their babies.
The New York City health department will monitor the number of formula bottles being given out and demand a medical reason for each one.
From September 3, 27 out of 40 hospitals in the city have agreed to the terms of the Latch On initiative – which will also see them stop handing out free bags of formula and bottles.
Although mothers who want to bottle feed their babies will not be denied formula, it will be kept under lock and key similar to medications.
However any mother who requests formula will be given a lecture on why breastfeeding is better by hospital staff
‘Human breast milk is best for babies and mothers,’ said health commissioner Thomas Farley when the campaign was launched in May.
‘With this initiative the New York City health community is joining together to support mothers who choose to breastfeed.’
However mother-of-two Lynn Sidnam, who formula-fed both her daughters, told the New York Post: ‘If they put pressure on me, I would get annoyed.’
Some hospitals are already operating under the policy. NYU Langone Medical Center has seen breastfeeding rates soar to 68 per cent from 39 per cent.
Medical experts support the Latch On initiative. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life as it lowers risk of ear, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and developing asthma.
It is also in the health interests of the mother. There has been a link established between breastfeeding and reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer.