Cross-sectional examination of commercial milk formula industry funding of international, regional and national healthcare professional associations: protocol

Katarzyna Henke-Ciążyńska, Iwo Fober, Daniel Munblit, Alice Fabbri, Quinn Grundy, Lisa Bero, Robert J Boyle, Bartosz Helfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Commercial milk formula manufacturers often emphasise their role in supporting infant and young child nutrition and breastfeeding, but their commercial goals to increase volume and profit margin of formula sales conflict with these declarations. Healthcare professional associations have an important role in healthcare worker education, shaping clinical practice. When healthcare professional associations enter into financial relationships with formula manufacturers, conflicts of interest arise, which may undermine education and practice that promotes optimal infant and young child feeding. The World Health Assembly calls on all parties to avoid such conflicts of interest, but it is uncertain how often this recommendation is followed. This protocol documents a systematic method to identify funding from the commercial milk formula industry among international, regional and national associations of healthcare professionals.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Using systematic search strategies in the Gale Directory Library and Google, we will identify international healthcare professional associations relevant to maternal and child health. Data regarding funding relationships with the commercial milk formula industry over the past 24 months will be extracted from the official websites or, in their absence, social media accounts by two independent analysts. The analysis will focus on the presence of conflict of interest or sponsorship policies and type of funding, such as sponsorship or payment for services.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study does not require ethical approval and will use data available in the public domain. The results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journal articles, at conferences and among the healthcare professional associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere083216
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Early online date22 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2024


We would like to thank Iryna Furda for her help with a previous version of this protocol.


  • Humans
  • Infant Formula/economics
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Food Industry/economics
  • Infant
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Breast Feeding/economics
  • Research Design
  • Health Personnel
  • Social Media
  • Nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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