Mercy’s Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Discusses New Steps to Encourage Breastfeeding in Maryland

November 2, 2015
Family Childbirth and Children's Center - Baltimore

The debate over breastfeeding versus formula feeding heats up. Maryland hospitals will no longer give out free formula samples. The goal is to promote breastfeeding.

In an effort to promote breastfeeding, all 32 birthing hospitals in the state have stopped giving out formula samples. Maryland is the fourth state to stop offering the gift bags–joining Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Delaware.

Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Howard Haft says while mothers are no longer sent home  with the promotional giveaway bags, they can still request formula at the hospital.

“At least for the reason to encourage breastfeeding, but also because providing samples is sort of a tacit endorsement of one or another product,” Dr. Haft said.

According to Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercy Medical Center, The Family Childbirth and Children’s Center, breastfeeding is what’s best for mother and baby, but every case is unique.

“Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. It is hard. It is time consuming. It is free, but it is a hard thing for women,” said Dr. Atlas.

Others say the decision creates an unnecessary divide between breastfeeding mothers and mothers who use formula. The Health Department is not enforcing the change, the hospitals are doing it voluntarily. The move puts Maryland in compliance with the World Health Organization and is backed by the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition. The decision does not affect the state’s WIC program, which provides assistance to low income families.

View Dr. Robert Atlas’ interview regarding breastfeeding.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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