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Breastfeeding refers to the feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk directly from human breasts rather than from 
Breastfeeding icon
a baby bottle or other container. Babies have a sucking reflex that enables them to suck and swallow milk. Most mothers can breastfeed for six months or more, without the supplement of infant formula milk or solid food.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for newborns at least until 6 months of age. Breastfeeding is the ideal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Research suggests that breastfeeding promotes health, helps to prevent disease and reduces health care and feeding costs.


Child mortality and breastfeeding

The WHO estimates that 13% of under-5 deaths could be avoided if either the children were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. Each year, 3.9 million children die in the first 28 days of life. Undernutrition and diarrhoea (2 million children die annually) are two main factors behind child mortality. 6 % of under-5 deaths could be prevented with adequate and safe complementary feeding.

In addition, infants aged 0-5 months who are not breastfed have seven-fold and five-fold increased risks of death from diarrhoea and pneumonia, respectively, compared with infants who are exclusively breastfed. The exclusive breastfeeding rate 0-6 months in East Asia and the Pacific is 35.5 percent, ranging form 5.4 percent (Thailand) to 65.1 percent (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).

Public Breastfeeding debates

ttitudes toward breastfeeding in public vary around the world. In many parts of the developing world, breastfeeding in public is socially acceptable and uncontroversial. In parts of the industrialized world breastfeeding in public is infrequent due to societal attitudes about indecent exposure and dress code.


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