Breastfeeding is the cheapest and most effective life-saver in history
Ulaanbaatar, 1 August 2013 – During World Breastfeeding Week starting today, UNICEF is focusing on breastfeeding as the most effective and inexpensive way of saving a child’s life. But with less than half of all children under six months benefitting from exclusive breastfeeding, strong leadership in promoting the practice is essential.
Breastfeeding also supports a child’s ability to learn and helps prevent obesity and chronic diseases later in life. Recent studies in the United States and United Kingdom point to large health care savings resulting from breastfeeding, given that breastfed children fall ill much less often than non-breastfed children.
Apart from the benefits to the baby, mothers who breastfeed exclusively are less likely to become pregnant in the first six months following delivery, recover faster from giving birth, and return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner. Evidence shows that they experience less post-partum depression and also have a lower risk of ovarian and breast cancers later in life.
In Mongolia, according to the MICS 2010 survey, over 40% of children aged 0-5 months were not exclusively breastfed.
Countries with supportive policies and comprehensive programmes that reach all communities have been able to increase their breastfeeding rates significantly.
There needs to be higher prioritization and commitment, targeted policies and greater consensus to engage the world in promoting this life-saving and vital practice.
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