ICYMI: State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah told me during a CapTon interview last night that he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about in regards to Mayor Bloomberg’s “Latch On NY” breastfeeding-over-formula initiative, which calls for hospitals to keep bottles under lock and key unless newborns babies are medically unable to receive nourishment from their mothers.

“Frankly, I think this is common sense, and frankly, it’s the right thing to do,” Shah said.

“If you think of pediatric obesity as one of the biggest emerging health threats to our country in the next decade,” the commissioner continued. “If you start by breastfeeding, women who breast feed have significantly improved outcomes and lower weight babies over time, appropriately, than formula-fed babies.”

“When I had my child five years ago at NYU, they gave a beautiful little package with a formula maker, you know, bottles, all of the samples. And, so you assume that this is what we should be doing. If we take those out of the hospital, and say: Don’t give away freebies that don’t encourage moms to breast feed. Let’s actually encourage breast feeding by teaching them the right ways in the hospital, making sure they have all the support they need, (then) women can make more informed choices.”

Had Shah and his wife had their baby in NYC today, the “freebies” of which he speaks would no longer be offered.

The Bloomberg administration initiative in 2007 to end the practice of doling out free formula samples in the city’s 11 public hospitals was met by much the same outcry as “Latch On NY” has generated, particularly by those mothers who underwent C-sections – a fast-growing practice – and experienced a delay in milk production due to the surgery.

It appears the Shahs were right on the cusp of that no-freebie policy.

The NYC formula freebie ban was not instituted statewide, nor is such a practice common across the nation.

In fact, Massachusetts recently became only the second state in the nation – behind Rhode Island – where all maternity hospitals have eliminated formula giveaways – and yes, the issue even has presidential race implications.

Shah said the state is working “very closely” and “hand-in-hand” with NYC on its new no-formula initiative, although he admitted the Bloomberg administration has the most aggressive participant in the statewide effort.

Last week, the DOH sent hospitals a letter reminding them of the regulations regarding the unnecessary feeding of formula to babies in their initial hours of life. So far, there have yet to be any complaints about the state’s initiative – at least nothing compared to the firestorm Bloomberg is experiencing.