New Research Shows That Breastfeeding Matters Everywhere and Could Save Millions of Lives and Dollars

The leading medical journal The Lancet just released a new Series on Breastfeeding with remarkable new evidence on the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding. The Lancet found that breastfeeding could save 820,000 lives and add $302 billion into the global economy. The Lancet shows that breastfeeding lays the foundation for the healthiest start for all children, rich or poor, girl or boy.

Now more than ever we know what needs to be done to support and enable mothers to breastfeed. With such compelling evidence, all of us, including governments, donors, development agencies, the research community, the private sector and civil society need to step up. Breastfeeding can be dramatically improved in a short period of time.

Low and middle income countries such as Burkina Faso, India, Malawi, Peru and Zambia, and high income countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, have shown that it is possible to maintain high breastfeeding rates or increase rates in a short period of time provided political commitment, strong policies and programs are in place.

Here are some examples of what can be done:

  • Providing lactation education, counselling, and skilled practical help for mothers in health facilities

  • Using trained peer counsellors andmother support groups in communities

  • Providing adequate maternity protection covering workplace policies such as paid maternity leave, allocated time for breastfeeding breaks and space in the workplace

  • Adopting and enforcing the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes which regulates the marketing of breastmilk substitutes

Breastfeeding not only helps children survive in countries with high infant mortality, it also helps all children thrive. The Lancet finds that breastfeeding is the ultimate personalized medicine. A mother’s breastmilk transmits elements of her own microbiome and immune responses to her baby, with potential lifelong effects.

Breastfeeding is an essential part of early development and prepares children for a productive future. Across —> Read More