Trump blasts 'fake' NYT story on US opposition to breastfeeding measure

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE on Monday blasted a New York Times report detailing a U.S. effort to quash a World Health Assembly (WHA) measure promoting breastfeeding, insisting that the U.S. supports the practice but did not want to limit access to breast milk substitutes.

"The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out," Trump tweeted. "The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don’t believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty."

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The Times reported Sunday that U.S. officials turned to threats in an effort to throw cold water on a WHA resolution holding that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for young children and pushes countries to limit the spread of inaccurate information about breast milk substitutes.

The measure was expected to be introduced by Ecuador. But the U.S. reportedly threatened the country with punitive trade measures and a cut to military aid if it did not drop the proposal.

Health advocates sought to find another sponsor for the resolution, the Times reported, and Russia eventually introduced the measure without threats from the U.S.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, the lead agency in negotiations on the resolution, defended the U.S. opposition to the measure, saying that it would impede women's access to vital baby formula when breastfeeding is not an option.

"The United States was fighting to protect women’s abilities to make the best choices for the nutrition of their babies. Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Caitlin Oakley said in a statement to The Hill. 

Maggie Haberman, a White House reporter for the Times, noted in a tweet on Monday that after calling the newspaper's report false, Trump confirmed its central premise: that his administration opposed the resolution.

The baby formula industry, which is dominated by U.S. and European companies, has seen stagnant sales in wealthy countries in recent years as breastfeeding becomes more common. Their sales have increased, however, in developing countries.