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Book and Media Reviews
October 11, 2006

Motherhood, Culture

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;296(14):1781-1786. doi:10.1001/jama.296.14.1781

“Breast-Feed or Else,” is the front-page headline of the New York Times science section on June 13, 2006. “Warning,” health policy writer Roni Rabin begins the article, “public health officials have determined that not breast-feeding may be hazardous to your baby's health.” Rabin describes a current controversial government public health campaign advising mothers to breastfeed for six months. The campaign includes television advertisements depicting a pregnant woman thrown off a mechanical bull, suggesting such behavior was the equivalent of choosing not to breastfeed. “You wouldn't take risks before your baby's born,” the ad continues. “Why start after?” In the center of the page, a giant baby bottle with a pink line through it draws attention to the stark nature of the controversy. To the right, graphs and charts illustrate the small percentage of mothers, by race, education, income, and marital status, who currently breastfeed up to six months. Overall, fewer than 20% breastfeed exclusively by six months, a statistic that has become a cause of concern for public health leaders.1

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