On the 20th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF says around 1 million child deaths could be prevented in the developing world every year, if governments promoted breastfeeding
Exclusive breastfeeding helps prevent diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia, which kill millions of children every year. Yet only around 39 per cent of mothers in developing countries breastfeed their babies.
"If breastfeeding were promoted more effectively and women were protected from aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes, we would see more children survive and thrive, with lower rates of disease and lower rates of malnutrition and stunting," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
Continued obstacles include widespread and unethical marketing by makers of breastmilk substitutes, poor national policies that don't support maternity leave, and a lack of understanding of the risks of not breastfeeding.
Ask the PM to take action on stunting
This World Breastfeeding Week, we want to highlight the critical role that breastfeeding plays in reducing child mortality and stunting.
A non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed child, according to the Lancet.
Breastmilk can ensure children get the nutrition they need in their early life, but more needs to be done to support exclusive breastfeeding across the world.
On 12 August, the day of the Olympic Closing Ceremony, the Prime Minister will host an event in London that will bring together world leaders in science, business and development with key heads of state to discuss the world hunger crisis.
Starting at this event, and using the G8 presidency next year, we are asking him to keep child hunger and stunting at the top of the agenda throughout 2013.
Join our call for action against child stunting
What is child stunting?