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Breastfeeding saves lives

Relative risk of infectious disease mortality among non -breastfed infants.

Age (months)

For HIV-infected mothers, especially in developing countries, the decision to breastfeed or to give breastmilk substitutes like infant formula or modified cow's milk provides a dilemma. While breastfeeding increases the risk of HIV-transmission to the child with up to 15%, giving breastmilk substitutes instead of breastmilk increases the risk due to infectious diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory infections about 6 times during the first 2 months.

Many mothers in developing countries cannot afford breastmilk substitutes and lack access to clean water, which is essential for their safe preparation and use. Also in many cultures there is a stigma against not breastfeeding. A mother living with HIV/AIDS therefore faces many grave difficulties: worries about her own health and survival, the risk of infecting her baby through breastmilk, and the danger that her baby will develop other health problems if she does not breastfeed.

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