News / Health

WHO: Breast-Feeding Can Save Infants' Lives

Hundreds of women promote public breastfeeding outside City Hall Square, Copenhagen, June 17, 2013.
Hundreds of women promote public breastfeeding outside City Hall Square, Copenhagen, June 17, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization reports that exclusive breast-feeding until six months of age could prevent the deaths of more than 200,000 infants each year.
 
In order to mark World Breast-Feeding Week, August 1-7, a new WHO study finds few countries are implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, 32 years after it was adopted.
 
The WHO considers breast-feeding the best source of nourishment for infants and young children, describing it as a practice with lifelong health benefits. The agency says people who were breast-fed as babies are, for example, less likely to be overweight or obese later in life, and may be less prone to diabetes and more likely to perform better in intelligence tests.
 
According to Dr. Carmen Casanovas, a breast-feeding expert with WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, nearly all mothers are physically able to breast-feed and will do so if they have accurate information and support.
 
However, she says, while data show fewer than four out of 10 children in the world are currently exclusively breast-fed, the practice could save an estimated 220,000 infant lives annually.
 
"What is appropriate breast-feeding? It means starting breast-feeding within the first hour of life with skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant," she said. "Exclusive breast-feeding — that is, that the baby is not receiving anything but breast milk during the first six months of life — and continued breast-feeding with appropriate foods until two years of age or beyond."
 
Casanovas says many women are discouraged from breast-feeding, or have been led to believe their children will get a better start in life if they are fed infant formula and other commercial substitutes for breast milk.
 
The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes in 1981 to counter the aggressive marketing of these products to mothers by the industry.
 
WHO says infant formula does not contain the antibodies found in breast milk. It says infants in developing countries are at particular risk from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment in making formula. It says babies can become malnourished because mothers may try to stretch supplies by over-diluting formula with water.
 
While the code was created to protect mothers from dishonest promotional campaigns, Casanovas acknowledges it has not been markedly successful. She says the WHO study shows only one out of five countries in the world are fully implementing the code. She says it is essential countries adopt and adapt the code to meet their own situation.
 
"They have to have a prohibition of advertisement of breast-milk substitutes; a prohibition of giving samples of breast-milk substitutes today in the health centers; a prohibition of giving gifts to the health workers, because sometimes it is not a sample, but it could be a trip to some place or any other type of gift," she said. "And a prohibition of advertising of giving samples to the mothers."
 
WHO says full implementation of the code is vital for reducing or eliminating all forms of promotion of breast-milk substitutes. The code is voluntary. It aims to control, not ban the marketing of these products.
 
WHO says it is very important for countries to monitor the implementation of the code. It notes this document allows member states to sanction those who do not comply with the regulations. It says those found in breach of the code can be fined or punished in other ways.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid