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Make Breastfeeding easier for mothers, says UNICEF

NEW YORK - KYIV, 1 August 2012 – On the 20th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF says strong national policies supporting breastfeeding could prevent the deaths of around 1 million children under five in the developing world each year.

Despite compelling evidence that exclusive breastfeeding prevents diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia that kill millions of children every year, global rates of breastfeeding have remained relatively stagnant in the developing world, growing from 32 per cent in 1995 to 39 per cent in 2010. 

“If breastfeeding were promoted more effectively and women were protected from aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, we would see more children survive and thrive, with lower rates of disease and lower rates of malnutrition and stunting,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.  

Some of the roadblocks to improving breastfeeding rates are widespread and unethical marketing by makers of breast milk substitutes, poor national policies that do not support maternity leave, and a lack of understanding of the risks of not breastfeeding. 

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1166/Holt

The 2008 Lancet Nutrition Series highlighted the remarkable fact that a non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed child. Breast milk meets a baby's complete nutritional requirements and is one of the best values among investments in child survival as the primary cost is the mother’s nutrition.

“Breastfeeding needs to be valued as a benefit which is not only good for babies, mothers, and families, but also as a saving for governments in the long run. Your milk is best for your child. I know that from my own experience as I breastfed my daughter,” said UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Yukie Mokuo.

In Ukraine just one third of children are exclusively breastfed, according to the experts’ estimates. Babies should receive breast-milk exclusively until the age of 6 months, and after the introduction of solid foods mothers can continue breastfeeding their babies up to the age of two.

UNICEF is concerned with the breastfeeding rate in Ukraine, which is one of the lowest in the region.  Mother’s milk is the ideal nutrition for a baby and UNICEF advocates for exclusive breastfeeding in order to maximise children’s opportunities for development and well-being. Do not allow others feed your child!

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About UNICEF: UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protecting the rights and interests of children. The Fund operates in over 190 countries to protect and support children from an early age through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF mission in Ukraine commenced in 1997. More info at: Join us on Facebook: and twitter: @unicef_ua

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Crowe, UNICEF New York, Tel + 1 212 326 7206, Mobile: + 1 646 209 1590,
Veronika Vashchenko, UNICEF Kyiv, tel + 38 044 254 2450, 



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