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Fewer U.S. Hospitals Provide Free Infant Formula

Distribution of industry-sponsored infant formula samples in hospitals decreased from 2007 to 2010

MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The proportion of U.S. hospitals that distribute industry-sponsored formula sample packs decreased from 2007 to 2010, with the biggest drop in states with a higher proportion of sample-pack-free hospitals in 2007, according to a study published online Sept. 26 in Pediatrics.

Radha Sadacharan, from the Boston Medical Center, and colleagues assessed trends in the proportion of U.S. hospitals that distribute industry-sponsored formula sample packs between 2007 and 2010. In a 2007 study, all 50 U.S. states were surveyed to ascertain the proportion of hospitals that distributed infant formula samples to new mothers. In the follow-up study, 1,239 hospitals from the 10 best-record and worst-record states were contacted and asked if new mothers were given a "formula company-sponsored diaper discharge bag."

The investigators found that 14 percent of the hospitals from the 20 assessed states were sample-pack free in 2007 and the proportion of those same hospitals who were sample-free in 2010 increased to 28 percent. The percentage of hospitals that were sample-pack free, per state, ranged from 0 percent in five states to 86 percent in Rhode Island. Between 2007 and 2010, the weighted proportion of sample-pack-free hospitals increased significantly by a mean difference of 18 and 6 percent in the 10 best-record and worst-record states, respectively.

"Trends indicate that increasing numbers of U.S. hospitals are eliminating industry-sponsored formula sample packs from their maternity service," the authors write.

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