Media centre

Press releases

Media contacts

UNICEF in the News


Breastfeeding within one hour of birth can significantly reduce infant mortality in Viet Nam

© UNICEF Viet Nam\2006\Doan Bao Chau

Ha Noi, 1 August 2007 – Breastfeeding babies immediately after birth can prevent a significant number of neonatal deaths in developing countries, said UNICEF today at the start of World Breastfeeding Week, 1-7 August 2007.

This year’s theme: “Breastfeeding: the first hour, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding can save more than one million babies” offers an excellent opportunity to draw global attention to the important role that breastfeeding plays in saving lives of infants.

“More than one third of child deaths occur during the first fragile month of life,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman. “Early breastfeeding provides critical nutrients, protects infants against deadly diseases and fosters growth and development.” 

UNICEF estimates that exclusive breastfeeding to the age of six months could prevent the deaths of 1.3 million children under the age of five each year.

Viet Nam has promoted breastfeeding since the early 1980s. Viet Nam has also adopted policies on exclusive breastfeeding to at least six months of age as part of its national nutrition strategy and advocated the initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour after birth. Yet despite these policies, recent studies show only 12% of Vietnamese infants were breastfed exclusively in the first six months of life and only one quarter were breastfed within the first hour of birth. Bottle-feeding of infants is still very common and on the rise and early complementary feeding also remains a big problem with some 55% of young children being given complementary food before six months of age.

“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective interventions to save lives of young children, contributing to prevent 13% of all under 5 deaths,” said UNICEF Viet Nam Health and Nutrition Chief, Marjatta Tolvanen-Ojutkangas. “Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for the following six months would reduce 22% of all neonatal deaths in Viet Nam. These are the first and most vital steps towards reducing infant and under 5 mortality, and form a solid foundation for good child health and growth.”

UNICEF is committed to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and it has been working closely with the Reproductive Health Department of the Ministry of Health, National Institute for Nutrition, the World Health Organization and other partners on a number of initiatives to advocate and further promote breastfeeding practice in Viet Nam.


World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 and is now observed in over 120 countries by UNICEF and its partners, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the World Health Organization.

Breastfeeding Advocacy package
In support of global efforts to promote breastfeeding, the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre has prepared a package that contains publications, posters and other communications and advocacy materials in several languages. The package is available at:

The Ghana Study
Source: Pediatrics, “Delayed Breastfeeding Initiation Increases Risk of Neonatal Mortality’, 2006; 177; 380-386 (
Karen M. Edmond, MMSc, FRCPCH, Charles Zandoh, MSc, Maria A. Quigley, Seeba Amenga-Etego, MSc, Seth Owusu-Agyei, PhD and Betty R. Kirkwood, MSc, FMedSci

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Marjatta Tolvanen-Ojutkangas, Chief of Health and Nutrition, UNICEF Viet Nam, +844 942 – 5706, ext. 212, or 091 323 2952,
Dr. Nguyen Dinh Quang, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Viet Nam, +844 942 – 5706, ext. 332, or 091 502 5686,
Mr. Trinh Anh Tuan, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Viet Nam, +844 942 – 5706, ext. 234, or 090 329 6393,




 Email this article

Donate Now

unite for children