Pampers Down a very Slippery Slope

Pampers, a longtime world-leading household name for diapers and baby wipes products, has now ventured into manufacturing feeding bottles. This will put the diaper company under the purview of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and as a result of its promotional activities, into the bad camp of Code violators. Manufactured by Procter & Gamble, these Pampers feeding bottles share the same brand name as the company’s other products that are not within the scope of the Code, in particular the Pampers diapers and wipes.

What this effectively means is that under Articles 5.4 and 6.3  of the International Code, other Pampers products such as diapers and wipes, are no longer allowed to be distributed  to pregnant women or mothers or in  healthcare facilities, a practice that is widely carried in many countries.

Other reasons why Pampers are now to be viewed as Code violators include:
  1. Idealising text such as “inspired by nature for your baby’s growing needs” seen on the packaging of its feeding bottles.  This is a blatant violation of Article 9.1, which requires that labels should not discourage breastfeeding.
                           
  2. Information on infant and young child feeding the official Pampers website (http://www.pampers.com/diapers/baby-formula-feeding#; accessed 10 April 2015) contains idealising phrases such as “modern formulas are a good second best”, “moments when you’re giving your baby a bottle are wonderful times to feel close and to get to know each other”, “very much like breast milk, on which they’re modeled” and  “same amount of closeness, cuddles, and coos as it would have if you were nursing” .

Such descriptions are clear violations of Article 4.2 which prohibits text that may idealise the use of breastmilk substitutes. The website also omits required information such as the negative effect of bottle feeding on breastfeeding, difficulty of reversing the decision not to breastfeed, and social and financial implications of formula use.

There is also misleading Information on the website in the way it talks about supplementation, which makes no reference to the global public recommendation for babies to be exclusively breastfed*. For example, mothers are told, “your baby’s father, as well as other family members, can do some of the feeding right from the start, or whenever you decide to supplement’’ – there is no warning about the risk of supplementation before six months.

It is worrisome that the messages on the website give the impression that formula feeding is equivalent to breastfeeding and that it is a lifestyle choice – when it is in fact a public health issue that concerns the health of all infants and young children.  Pampers will hence forth be brought under our Code watch radar and we encourage our visitors to send us more violations involving the company so that its parent company could be held to account in countries where there are monitoring and enforcement mechanisms in place.

*Exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods, as stated in the Global strategy on infant and young child feeding
(WHA55 A55/15, paragraph 10)