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                                Breastfeeding

                                  Overview

                                  Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. However, nearly 2 out of 3 infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months—a rate that has not improved in 2 decades. 

                                  Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses. Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life. 

                                  Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers. 

                                  Inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and duration worldwide.

                                   

                                  Recommendations

                                  WHO and UNICEF recommend that children initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life – meaning no other foods or liquids are provided, including water. 

                                  Infants should be breastfed on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night. No bottles, teats or pacifiers should be used. 

                                  From the age of 6 months, children should begin eating safe and adequate complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond.

                                  WHO Response

                                  WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children, and is working to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months up to at least 50% by 2025. 

                                  WHO and UNICEF created the Global Breastfeeding Collective to rally political, legal, financial, and public support for breastfeeding. The Collective brings together implementers and donors from governments, philanthropies, international organizations, and civil society. 

                                  WHO’s Network for Global Monitoring and Support for Implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, also known as NetCode, works to ensure that breast-milk substitutes are not marketed inappropriately.

                                  Additionally, WHO provides training courses for health workers to provide skilled support to breastfeeding mothers, help them overcome problems, and monitor the growth of children.

                                  3 in 5

                                  not breastfed

                                  Globally, 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour of life.

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                                  820 000 children

                                  could be saved

                                  Over 820 000 children could be saved yearly if all children 0-23 months were optimally breastfed.

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                                  41% of infants

                                  aged 0-6 months

                                  Only 41% of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed.

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                                  Publications

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                                  Infant and young child feeding counselling: an integrated course: trainer’s guide, 2nd ed

                                  Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe, and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health...

                                  Global breastfeeding scorecard 2021: protecting breastfeeding through bold national actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

                                  Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Breastmilk contains antibodies that help protect against many common...

                                  Infant and young child feeding counselling: an integrated course: course handouts

                                  Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe, and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health...

                                  Infant and young child feeding: counselling cards for health workers

                                  Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe, and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health...

                                  Infant and young child feeding counselling: an integrated course: participant’s manual, 2nd ed

                                  Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe, and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health...

                                  Frequently asked questions: COVID-19 vaccines and breastfeeding based on WHO interim recommendations, 12 August 2021

                                  The FAQs are intended to provide answers to health care providers and the public, including mothers who are breastfeeding or expressing milk, on breastfeeding...

                                  Infant and young child feeding counselling: an integrated course: guidance on the use of counselling cards

                                  Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe, and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health...

                                  Infant and young child feeding counselling: an integrated course: director’s guide, 2nd ed

                                  Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe, and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health...