Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding will save more lives of babies and children than any other single preventive intervention. Breastfed children have fewer childhood infections; fewer chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, cancers in later life); higher Intelligence Quotient (IQ); higher earning potential; more opportunities to prioritize education; and healthier mothers. Breastfeeding reduces burdens on society such as health expenditures, hospitalizations and absenteeism. It also saves families money because it obviates any need for commercial substitutes.
Evidence suggests that infant formula industry advertisements, gifts and sponsorships promote misconceptions and myths and ultimately have a negative impact on feeding practices.
Virtually all mothers can breastfeed.
The Word Health Organization recommends that all infants should:
- Initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
- Feed on nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life
- Continue breastfeeding until at least the age of two years and beyond
- Be introduced to adequate, safe and appropriate complementary foods beginning at the age of six months.
- The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding
- Comprehensive implementation plan for maternal, infant and young child nutrition
- Early initiation of breastfeeding
- Exclusive breastfeeding
- Continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond
- Technical documents on infant feeding and breastfeeding
- Guidelines on HIV and infant feeding 2010
- Information concerning the use of follow-on formula
- Indicators for assessing infant and young child feeding practices
- e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)
- List of publications on infants and young child feeding
- Breastfeeding, maternal health and everyday living