1 August 2012

Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week.

At UNICEF, we believe that around one million child deaths could be prevented in the developing world every year, if governments promoted breastfeeding.

We know that 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 breast milk 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.   

So why don't more women breastfeed?

At the moment, obstacles include widespread and unethical marketing by makers of breast milk substitutes, poor national policies that don't support maternity leave, and a lack of understanding of the risks of not breastfeeding.

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.

Breast milk gives a baby everything they need and costs only what it takes to feed the mother.

Find out more

 
Mothers in Sarfin Yama Sofoua village in Niger are keeping their children healthy, despite a major food shortage, by practising exclusive breastfeeding.  © UNICEF/2012/Niger/Jean-Baptiste Lopez
Mothers in Sarfin Yama Sofoua village in Niger are keeping their children healthy, despite a major food shortage, by practising exclusive breastfeeding. © UNICEF/2012/Niger/Jean-Baptiste Lopez

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