Infant Formula Distribution and Advertising in Pregnancy: A Hospital Survey

Cynthia R. Howard, Fred M. Howard, Michael L. Weitzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT: A survey was conducted at a 526–bed community hospital in Rochester, New York, to determine the prevalence of formula advertising and distribution during pregnancy to 136 consecutive intrapartum patients. Women answered a questionnaire about their choice of infant feeding methods and prenatal exposure to formula advertising. Of those who received printed information on infant feeding, 78 percent reported that it was published by a formula company, and 65 percent recalled receiving offers for free formula during their pregnancy. The likelihood of having received such offers was the same in women who planned to breastfeed as in those who planned to formula feed. Thirty‐eight percent of women obtained formula through a free offer before their infant's birth. Women who were privately cared for were more likely to have received offers for free formula (p < 0.001) than were women cared for in hospital‐affiliated clinics. Ninety percent of women who received free formula prenatally reported their prenatal caregiver as a source of samples. Of samples that women obtained prenatally, 93 percent were from companies that advertise only indirectly through hospitals and physicians, whereas 7 percent were from companies that advertise directly to patients. The prevalence of formula company advertising during the prenatal care of women who to deliver in this hospital is high. The continued participation of prenatal caregivers in promotion efforts of formula companies provides a negative or mixed message about the importance of breastfeeding and may be a barrier to its success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-19
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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