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On the World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF encourages all mother to exclusively breastfeed thier baby

breastfeeding week
© UNICEF Thailand/2013/Metee Thuentap
UNICEF Thailand celebrates the World Breastfeeding Week 2014. We encourage every mother to exclusively breastfeed their baby during the first six months of life. Here are some of our key messages:

1.    Giving children the best start in life begins with breastfeeding – one of the simplest, smartest and most cost-effective ways we have of supporting healthier children, stronger families and sustainable growth. World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration marked from 1-7 August highlighting the critical importance of promoting the value of breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommendations on breastfeeding are:
•    initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after the birth;
•    exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months;
•    continued breastfeeding for two years or more, with the introduction of safe and nutritionally adequate complementary foods starting at the sixth month.

But did you know that in Thailand, only about 12 % of mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months? This is among the lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates in Asia.

2.    Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding is key to newborn survival and quality care. Placing a newborn on the mother’s bare chest – skin-to-skin contact – regulates the baby’s temperature, heartbeat and breathing and helps establish breastfeeding as a regular practice. It also strengthens the lifelong bond between mother and child.

But in Thailand, only 46.3% of infants and mothers get to experience this. Only 29.2% of infants in Bangkok breastfeed during the first hour of life.

3.    A breastfed child is healthier and more intelligent,  which helps advance his or her prospects in life. Breastfeeding is consistently associated with an increase in IQ of about 3 points, even after adjustment of several confounding factors, including maternal IQ . By age 2, babies exclusively breastfed for at least three months have enhanced development in key parts of the brain associated with language, emotional function, and cognition.

4.    When a child is not breastfed, she/he is more susceptible to illnesses. Non-breastfeed Infants are 63% more at risk of diarrhoea than exclusively breastfed infants.  Breastfeeding also reduces the risks of hospitalization due to diarrhoea. In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of chronic conditions later in life compared to infants who are not breastfed. These conditions may include asthma, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.  

In order to provide complete information about the risks of not breastfeeding, UNICEF Thailand and other partners organizations have developed this video. Watch the video

5.    Counseling, education and support can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates among children less than six months old by up to 90 per cent.  UNICEF is supporting training of 1,200 nurses over the next 3 years with Nursing and Midwifery Council and Faculty of Nursing, Mahidol University. In addition UNICEF has supported the development of breastfeeding curriculum for medical and nursing students.

6.    Breastfeeding can also save health care systems significant resources due to reduced illness among breastfed babies – even moderate increases in breastfeeding in the UK could save the health service millions of pounds annually.  In the U.S., $13 billion could be saved in health care and other costs if exclusive breastfeeding rates increased.  



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