Women breastfeed babies during the annual World Breastfeeding Week to promote feeding children with natural milk in Mexico City on Aug. 1, 2015.
Henry Romero—Reuters
August 12, 2015 10:19 AM EDT

Mexico has banned the giveaway of free baby formula at hospitals, so that new mothers will be encouraged to breastfeed instead. Baby formula will still be available at stores and if requested by a doctor, the BBC reported.

The move was framed as an attempt to improve the health of infants in the country. Mexico has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the region, with some public health experts going so far as to call it a public health crisis. Only one in seven mothers breastfeeds exclusively for her baby’s first six months.

Health organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that women rely on breast milk exclusively until a child is six months old. Breastfeeding helps protect against childhood illnesses and increases a baby’s likelihood of surviving his or her first year, according to the AAP.



Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories