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How Formula Won Minds with 4 Brown Babies

October 28, 2010

I could talk about and promote breastfeeding all day. The low rate of breastfeeding among African American mothers saddens me, especially because (I believe) it’s the result of marketing, misperceptions, and is largely reversible.

Today, Elita at Blacktating has a post about the family and formula company that may have been the origin of a mass shift away from mother’s milk among Af-Am mothers. Meet the Fultz quadruplets:

Born to sharecropping parents in the 40s and the first black quadruplets on record, the quads became the PET Formula Company’s entree into the psyche of the black mother. Elita’s analysis:

This is the beginning of the aggressive marketing of infant formula to African-Americans in this country. Surely the wife of a poor sharecropper would have breastfed her children had PET not come into the picture. And of course black women were breastfeeding their children at this time because they really had no choice. Formula would not have been an affordable or viable option for most people. So although white women were turning to formula in droves, the formula companies were missing a huge portion of the market because black women were still breastfeeding.

Where are they now, you ask? Sadly, 3 of the sisters passed away from breast cancer. The surviving sister also battles the disease.

Read more about the Fultz family.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 8:25 pm

    Thank you for this post. I missed that post on Elita’s blog, but I will check it out now. It’s unfortunate what became of the quads. Wow. I am now going to share this story with others in my life.

  2. November 5, 2010 1:32 am

    Yeah, it’s quite a story. The picture I used is the one that struck me the most. Now, formula companies don’t have to advertise any advantages to formula (in general); breastmilk needs ads like these!

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