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Singer and actress Natalia Oreiro joins forces with UNICEF to promote breastfeeding

© UNICEF Argentina/ 2013/Machado, Cicala & Morassut
Natalia Oreiro, UNICEF Ambassador for Argentina and Uruguay, took her first public photo with her son, Merlín, to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding in the first two years of life.

Singer and actress Natalia Oreiro takes a personal approach in support of national breastfeeding campaigns in Argentina and Uruguay.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, 5 August 2013 – Residents of Argentina and Uruguay are accustomed to seeing Natalia Oreiro in advertising campaigns. The Uruguayan singer, actress and fashion designer is well known in the region, where she is frequently featured on magazine covers, billboards and in commercials. She has starred in various TV programmes and movies and was the first Uruguayan artist ever nominated for a Latin Grammy Award.

This year, however, she showed a more personal side in order to promote awareness of an easy health solution for babies with long-term benefits: prolonged breastfeeding. 

Natalia joined forces with UNICEF to lend her experience and image to a campaign that includes street signs, print advertisements and TV and radio spots. During the month of July, as well as during World Breastfeeding Week, the UNICEF Argentina and UNICEF Uruguay Facebook pages have enabled users to create their own cover photos by replacing Natalia’s photo with an image and a message that represent breastfeeding to them. There is also a campaign on twitter with the hash tag #DarTetaDarLoMejor.

Best thing that can happen

Ms. Oreiro and her husband, Ricardo Mollo, welcomed their son Merlín to the world in January 2012. As a UNICEF National Ambassador for Argentina and Uruguay since 2011, she knew it was important to follow World Health Organization guidelines, which advise exclusive breast feeding from the first hour of life until 6 months.

“This campaign is very important to me, so that mothers know that the only thing a baby needs in the first 6 months of life is breast milk,” Ms. Oreiro says. “When they are 6 months old, it is important that babies add other foods, but if mothers can breastfeed until the baby is 2 years old, it’s the best thing that can happen to both of them.”

UNICEF Uruguay Representative Egidio Crotti says, “Increasing knowledge about breastfeeding is important to achieving World Health Organization goals of improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition. One of these goals is increasing exclusive breastfeeding by 50 per cent by 2025.”

Globally, about 39 per cent of infants 0 to 6 months old are exclusively breastfed, according to WHO estimates. In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is estimated that 37 per cent of infants are exclusively breastfed until six months.

In Argentina, more than 95 per cent of newborns are breastfed, but only 54 percent are exclusively breastfed until 6 months old. After the sixth month, the percentage drops to only 30 percent.

In Uruguay, an estimated 98.5 per cent of newborns are breastfed, 65 per cent exclusively until 6 months old; 45 per cent of children are breastfed at 12 to 15 months.

Creating a bond

“Breast milk transmits important nutrients and immunities to the child, reducing the risk of diseases such as diarrhoea, malnutrition, respiratory diseases and overall infant mortality. Breastfed babies are more resistant to and overcome illnesses faster than babies who are artificially fed,” says Andrés Franco, UNICEF Argentina Representative.

Breastfeeding also reinforces bonds between the mother and baby, with benefits for the mother such as reducing the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, helping to space pregnancies, and lowering obesity rates.

While most mothers understand the benefits, many face challenges to prolonged breastfeeding, including logistics after returning to work, cultural myths and prejudices about the benefits of mother’s milk in comparison to formula, and the stigma of prolonged breastfeeding as the child gets older.

UNICEF Argentina and UNICEF Uruguay work closely with their Ministries of Health to promote breastfeeding by disseminating facts about the health benefits of breastfeeding, practical advice for the mother as well as the father, and advice for achieving prolonged breastfeeding by confronting common challenges.

“Nursing a child isn’t only a matter of providing nutrients, but also giving love, life and strengthening the relationship with him,” says Ms. Oreiro. “The bond created between mother and child is fantastic. It’s good for the baby, but it’s also good for the mother.”



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