Pediatric associations have been urged not to interact with and not to accept support from commercial providers of breast milk substitutes (BMSs), based on the assumption that such interaction would lead to diminished promotion and support of breastfeeding. The leadership of seven European pediatric learned societies reviewed the issue and share their position and policy conclusions here. We consider breastfeeding as the best way of infant feeding and strongly encourage its active promotion, protection, and support. We support the World Health Organization (WHO) Code of Marketing of BMSs. Infant formula and follow-on formula for older infants should not be advertised to families or the public, to avoid undermining breastfeeding. With consistently restricted marketing of BMSs, families need counseling on infant feeding choices by well-informed pediatricians. Current and trustworthy information is shared through congresses and other medical education directed and supervised by independent pediatric organizations or public bodies. Financial support from commercial organizations for congresses, educational, and scientific activities of pediatric organizations is an acceptable option if scientific, ethical, societal, and legal standards are followed; any influence of commercial organizations on the program is excluded, and transparency is ensured. Public-private research collaborations for improving and evaluating pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical devices, dietetic products, and other products and services for children are actively encouraged, provided they are guided by the goal of enhancing child health and are performed following established high standards. We support increasing investment of public funding for research aiming at promoting child health, as well as for medical education.
Keywords: continuing medical education; infant and young child feeding; infant nutrition; privately sponsored programs; public private sector cooperation.
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