In many ways, breastfeeding serves as a baby’s first vaccination, offering vital protection against illnesses and death. Infant feeding should begin within the first hour after birth, be exclusively breastfed for the first five months, and then continue for the remaining six to twenty-three months. Breastfeeding is a very effective preventative measure against all kinds of childhood malnutrition, including wasting.
It saves lives and protects infants from dangerous illnesses when they are breastfed.
Especially in low-income nations, infants who are not completely or partly breastfed have a greater risk of diarrhoea and are more likely to die than their peers. If women were encouraged to breastfeed, almost half of all diarrhoea bouts and a third of all respiratory illnesses might be prevented. Breastfeeding is by far the most effective public health intervention available today. We must ensure that all children, everywhere, get the greatest possible start in life. It is a fundamental human right for women and their children, and it should be safeguarded and encouraged as much as possible.
The frequency of exclusive breastfeeding has increased by 50% in the past four decades. A total of about 900 million babies worldwide have benefited from exclusive breastfeeding throughout their first year of life in terms of survival, growth, and development. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, breastfeeding rates in many nations are much too low. During the first six months of life, only 44 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed, a figure that falls far short of the global target of 50 percent by 2025. Furthermore, less than half of newborn babies are breastfed in their first hour of life, allowing them to miss out on the benefits of breastfeeding for survival and development.
The Code is still as important now as it was 40 years ago, when it was approved on May 21, 2021, when it was first adopted.
We strongly encourage producers of baby formula to completely comply with the CODE requirements, which have been required by the World Health Assembly and its member countries for this purpose.
The COVID-19 epidemic has caused interruption in availability to infant and child feeding services, which is threatening to undo some of the improvements achieved in many nations as a result of these services being reduced.
Although false claims made by baby food marketers that nursing may spread the virus, there is no need to stop breastfeeding in the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic. The evidence is unambiguous. Infants and young children may safely be breastfed even if their moms carry COVID-19, which is a virus that is believed or confirmed to exist. The many advantages of breastfeeding exceed the possible dangers of sickness linked with the virus by a large margin.
The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via breastmilk has not been shown to pose a concern for infants who are breastfed. Mothers who are suspected or known to have COVID-19 should continue to breastfeed their infants, according to the World Health Organization and other organisations such as the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The World Health Organization advises the use of COVID-19 vaccinations in breastfeeding mothers in the same way that it does in other people. As a result, healthy people who are presently nursing or producing milk are eligible to get the vaccinations.
Breastfeeding is very beneficial to both the health of the baby and the health of the mother.
Breastfeeding mothers were not included in the COVID-19 vaccination research, nor were the effects of mRNA or non-replicating vaccines on them or on the nursed infant taken into consideration.
This does not necessarily imply that the vaccination is unsafe for breastfeeding mothers or their infants, despite the lack of evidence to the contrary. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that nursing women who have received the COVID-19 vaccination may continue to do so.
The topic of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week – “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility” – is appropriate in that it draws attention to the important role that everyone should play in promoting breastfeeding at all levels.
With key opportunities this year, including the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September and the Nutrition for Growth Summit in December 2021, governments, donors, civil society, and the private sector all have an opportunity to step up and make smart investments and commitments to combat the global malnutrition crisis, which includes wasting, including wasting of food.
The government must also show action by making concrete promises to the complete and effective promotion and support of breastfeeding, as well as other areas of public health.
Governments must completely implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes via strong legislative measures that are strictly enforced, as well as through independent monitoring of the compliance of health professionals and health care institutions with the Code.
Families-friendly policies should be implemented by businesses and employers to provide women with the time, space, and support they need to breastfeed their children. This includes giving at least 18 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Several studies have shown that returning to work makes it more difficult for women to breastfeed their children and provide them with the greatest nutritional support. Donors should boost financing for breastfeeding programmes, counselling interventions, and the complete implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.