Women need accurate information, support to promote breastfeeding, says UN agency | Nutrition & Health | Scoop.it

30 July 2013, UN News Centre -- "The United Nations health agency today called for ensuring that women have accurate information and support regarding the importance of breastfeeding, after a new report found that only 1 in 5 countries fully implement international guidelines about the marketing of breast-milk substitutes.


“Nearly all mothers are physically able to breastfeed and will do so if they have accurate information and support,” said Carmen Casanovas, breastfeeding expert with the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development of the UN World Health Organization (WHO).


“But in many cases, women are discouraged from doing so, and are misled to believe that they are giving their children a better start in life by buying commercial substitutes,” Dr. Casanovas said in a news release.


Breastfeeding, WHO stressed, is “the best source of nourishment” for infants and young children and one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. People who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese later in life, less prone to diabetes and may perform better in intelligence tests.


However, globally, only an estimated 38 per cent of infants are exclusively breastfed for six months, the agency noted.

Concerned that breast-milk substitutes were being marketed to mothers too aggressively, the 27th World Health Assembly in 1974 urged member States to review sales promotion activities on baby foods and to introduce appropriate remedial measures, including advertisement codes and legislation where necessary. ..."


This led, in 1981, to agreement on the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, and the adoption of several subsequent resolutions on the matter. The new report, published ahead of World Breastfeeding Week, found that only 37 countries, or 19 per cent of those reporting, have passed laws reflecting all the Code’s recommendations.