Policies on infant nutrition and health such as the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes as well as overwhelming evidence-based research have demonstrated the crucial rôle of breastfeeding on infant ntrition and infant and maternal health. Yet breastfeeding rates continue to fall around the world, largely due to the impact of the aggressive marketing of formula, and the social manipulation by advertising, undermining breastfeeding as the biological and social norm for infant feeding, even among the poorest populations. Follow-on and growth milks have been determined to be unnecessary, despite unsubstantiated claims by industry to the contrary, and, along with special babyfoods through early childhood, present a continued financial burden to families with no nutritional advantage over family foods. The International Code and WHA Resolutions are insufficiently legislated, and there is growing concern about the widespread conflicts of interest between industry and health sectors. Please see IBFAN's position statement on Sponsorships for more detail.
Breastfeeding is a fundamental human right, and recognised as such by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding along woth appropriate complementary foods to age two years or beyond, represents food, health and care, as it prevents malnutrition, protects both mother and child against disease (with protection increasing with duration of breastfeeding) and reduces economic differences.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food addressed the World Breastfeeding Conference 2012 in New Delhi, emphasising the importance of breastfeeding as a human right for both the mother and the child, the neeed for the full implementation of the International Code on the Marketing of breastmilk Substitutes as well as maternity protection for working mothers and better education for girls and women.
Peer support in the form of mother to mother breastfeeding support groups or breastfeeding peer counsellors have been found to be one of the most effective ways of increasing both initiation and duration of breastfeeding.
The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative launched by IBFAN/WABA in 2004 is a tool to evaluate the state of breastfeeding according to different criteria, and allows countries to monitor breastfeeding rates and implement actions for improvement. Currently used by 83 countries, the WBTI should be implemented worldwide in order to improve breastfeeding rates, maternal protection at work, education, ans Code implementation.
During emergency situations – wars, floods, earthquakes, epidemics – breastfeeding saves the lives of those most vulnerable, infants and young children. lives. When food distribution comes to a halt, when fuel, drinling water, medicine and health services are unavailable, the breastfed baby or infant has significantlt improved rates of survival.. In 1998, during the first three months of conflict in Guinea-Bissau, the death rate among 9-20 month old non breastfed children was 6 times higher than those who were breastfed.
Breastfeeding is vital for the MDGs.
Goal 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger Breastfeeding is economical and provides high quality, irrepalceable nutrition through breastmilk, and its complex and species-specific composition.
Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education
Well-nourished babies and infants are equiped to learn. Breastfeeding is shown to improve cognitive and neurological devlopment.
Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women
Empowers women who realise that they can meet their child's emotional and nutritional needs through breastfeeding. Gives all children an equal good start in life.
Goal 4 Reduce child mortality
Reduced infection, better nutrition, reduced risk of malnutritio.
Goal 5 Improve maternal health
Many benefits - decreased maternal postpartum blood loss,lower incidence of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer, as well as the probability of decreased bone loss post-menopause. …
Goal 6 Fight HIV and other diseases
Research shows that breastfeeding in conjunction with ARV treatment protects the child
Goal 7 Ensure environmental sustainability
Breastfeeding is green ! Environmentally friendly, it has an invisble carbon footprint when compared to that of formula production..
Goal 8 Develop a global partnership for development
The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding encourages collaboration and partnerships in multiple sectors on national, local and international levels. Optimal infant feeding has a major impact on health outcomes and on economic productivity.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)