To determine the proportion of hospitals distributing free infant formula sample packs in 21 eastern states and the District of Columbia, to investigate any regional trends or timelines associated with discontinuation of formula pack distribution, and to catalog in 2 states the take-home items given to new mothers in addition to, or instead of, formula sample packs.
Data were collected between October 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007, over the telephone by research assistants using a prepared script. We determined whether hospitals distributed a “formula company–sponsored diaper discharge bag” to new mothers.
Our sample comprised all mainland states in the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration regions 1 through 4.
We contacted 1295 hospitals in 21 eastern states and the District of Columbia.
Hospital distribution of an infant formula sample pack.
Main Outcome Measure
The proportion of hospitals that distributed formula sample packs.
Ninety-four percent of hospitals distributed formula sample packs. Regional trends were evident. The proportion of distributing hospitals ranged from 70.4% (New Hampshire) to 100.0% (4 states—New Jersey, Maryland, Mississippi, and West Virginia—and Washington, DC). The proportion of hospitals that do not distribute sample packs has risen significantly between 1979 and 2006 (P < .01).
Most eastern US hospitals distributed formula sample packs to new mothers at hospital discharge, contrary to recommendations from the major medical organizations, but the practice is changing significantly.