It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and a new report out from The Global Breastfeeding Collective finds that as a planet, we’re not doing so well when it comes to exclusive breastfeeding goals.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (meaning nothing other than breastmilk given to baby) for the first 6 months of life.
Breastfeeding, which helps lower infant mortality rates and increases optimal development in infants, also brings huge economic benefits to families and the countries they reside in.
But currently none of the countries evaluated – rich or poor – are doing enough to help encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.
A few sobering statistics from the report:
- Only 40% of infants are exclusively breastfed for 6 months per the WHO recommendations
- Increasing that to 50% by 2025 would save the lives of more than 500,000 young children
- Highest exclusive BF rates at 6 months are in Rwanda and Burundi at 87 and 83%, respectively
- Lowest exclusive BF rates at 6 months are in Chad and Djibouti at 0 and 1%, respectively
Here in the US, only 25% of babies are exclusively breastfed.
Authors of the report recommend a number of ways to increase global breastfeeding rates. These include cracking down on advertising of infant formula which supplants breastfeeding and advocating for paid maternity leave for parents.
To learn more about the positive impact that breastfeeding can have on individual children, their larger families and communities and countries, check out the UNICEF page that promotes exclusive breastfeeding here.