I refer to Ms Jane Parry's letter ("Health officials fail to emphasise importance of breastfeeding", February 7).
The Health Department has all along been promoting breastfeeding, and educating parents about the healthy feeding of infants and young children. The department is fully aware of the recent public concern about the shortage of formula-milk supply.
The department has taken the opportunity to reinforce its recommendations on formula-milk feeding through various channels.
A new leaflet on recommendations to parents was produced and uploaded to our website. It has been distributed via the department's Maternal and Child Health Centres. In addition, a letter to all doctors was issued on January 30 to disseminate our key messages.
A joint statement on recommendations to parents on formula-milk feeding was also issued together with five health-care-professional groups on February 1.
In order to give wider coverage to our key messages, a poster on details of the joint statement will also be issued by the department along with nine health care or health professional organisations. The posters have been delivered to various health-care facilities for display.
We would also like to take this opportunity to reinforce our recommendations:
1. Milk is the sole source of nutrients for newborns to six-month-old babies. Parents should choose an infant formula which meets Codex Standards. If parents have difficulty in securing the brand currently consumed by their babies, they can consider switching to another brand.
2. Babies of six to 12 months old may have started taking complementary food, and they may either take infant formula or switch to a follow-up formula of any brand - although there is currently inadequate scientific or medical evidence to suggest the use of follow-up formula marketed for these children.
3. At the age of one or above, eating a varied diet can meet children's nutritional requirements. Milk is only part of a balanced diet and a convenient source of calcium for children aged one or above. Parents can let their children drink cow's milk.
4. Mothers should consider exclusively breastfeeding their babies for the first six months, and then, with the introduction of complementary foods, continuing breastfeeding their children up to age two and beyond.
Dr Rita Ho, acting assistant director (family and elderly health services), Department of Health