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Mortality from Nestlé’s Marketing of Infant Formula in Low and Middle-Income Countries

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  • Jesse K. Anttila-Hughes
  • Lia C.H. Fernald
  • Paul J. Gertler
  • Patrick Krause
  • Bruce Wydick

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesse K. Anttila-Hughes & Lia C.H. Fernald & Paul J. Gertler & Patrick Krause & Bruce Wydick, 2018. "Mortality from Nestlé’s Marketing of Infant Formula in Low and Middle-Income Countries," NBER Working Papers 24452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24452
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    1. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
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    Cited by:

    1. Little, Emily E. & Polanco, Maria Alejandra & Baldizon, Salvador R. & Wagner, Pascale & Shakya, Holly, 2019. "Breastfeeding knowledge and health behavior among Mayan women in rural Guatemala," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 242(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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