The intensity of USA opposition to the measure shocked public health officials and diplomats, marked a stark contrast from the Obama administration's support of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s position on breast-feeding. The United States and many countries around the world now abide by the International Code on Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, a health policy framework for promoting breastfeeding adopted in 1981.
At first, the US delegation tried to just water down the language in the resolution, but when that didn't work, they began to threaten and bully countries who were supporting the resolution.
President Donald Trump is blasting The New York Times for what he calls a "fake" story that reported the United States has been accused of "blackmail" after it threatened to cut aid to Ecuador and other poor countries who backed a resolution encouraging breastfeeding.
Ecuador was slated to introduce the breastfeeding resolution, but after the US threatened to "unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid", according to the newspaper, Ecuador "quickly acquiesced". The Department of Health and Human Services has since responded, saying the U.S delegation was advocating for a variety of feeding options because some women are unable to breastfeed.
"The issues being debated were not about whether one supports breastfeeding", HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement. "They should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies". Ecuador quickly dropped its support for the resolution.
American officials only agreed to the resolution in Geneva when Russian Federation threw its support behind the resolution.
The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations.
The Times characterized the dispute at the World Health Assembly as "the latest example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on numerous public health and environmental issues".
Mothers breastfeeding their children. "At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?" Nevertheless, the United States delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.
Of course, if ratified, the industry would shrink like an unmilked breast (fun fact: the free formula sample bag given in many hospitals includes an ice-pack to help stop milk flow in new mothers).
The move reflected the U.S. government's championing of the $US70 billion ($94 billion) baby formula industry - mainly based in the U.S. and Europe.
A 2016 study published by The Lancet says breastfeeding could save the lives of 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers each year.