Mortality from Nestlé's Marketing of Infant Formula in Low and Middle-Income Countries
24 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018 Last revised: 26 Oct 2022
Date Written: March 2018
Intensive and controversial marketing of infant formula is believed to be responsible for millions of infant deaths in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), yet to date there have been no rigorous analyses that quantify these effects. To estimate the impact of infant formula on infant mortality, we pair country-specific data from the annual corporate reports of Nestlé, the largest producer of infant formula, with a sample of 2.48 million births in 46 LMICs from 1970-2011. Our key finding is that the availability of formula increased infant mortality by 9.4 per 1000 births, 95%CI [3.6, 15.6] among mothers without access to clean water, suggesting that unclean water acted as a vector for the transmission of water-borne pathogens to infants. We estimate that the availability of formula in LIMCs resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in 1981 at the peak of the infant formula controversy.
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