Monday, March 5th, 2012
Breastfeeding Around the World
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for their first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health, yet globally less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Chances are that if you’re reading this article, breastfeeding is not a matter of life or death for your child. However, in many poorer parts of the world where water is not clean, food may be scarce and formula expensive, breastfeeding can make a critical difference in children’s health, well-being and life expectancy. InCultureParent takes a look at the beauty of breastfeeding in pictures, together with facts and attitudes, surrounding breastfeeding globally.
||Two-year-old Giada Lien enjoys a snack.
Next, we take you through breastfeeding in 15 countries around the world.
Image Courtesy: © www.GenitoriChannel.it
||The Philippines is one of the leaders in international efforts to promote and protect women’s right to breastfeed. The country has implemented laws to control aggressive marketing by formula companies and their false claims that formula makes babies smarter. The WHO estimated that the nation’s total lost wages from caring for formula-fed children with diarrhea and acute respiratory infections during the first six months of life was 1 billion pesos ($23.4 million). Eighty-eight percent of Filipino babies are breastfed at birth and 34% are exclusively breastfed up to five months of age.
Source: Time, ChildInfo and Le Leche League
Image Courtesy: © Jojo Pensica Jr.
||Seventy-one percent of Namibian babies are breastfed at birth. Exclusive breastfeeding in an infant’s first month of life has increased from just under 30% in 1992 to over 50% in 2007 but begins to taper off by four to five months. Of those who breastfeed, 65% continue to breastfeed their children at 12 to 15 months of age.
Image Courtesy: © Boaz Rottem
||Although breastfeeding is promoted by the Catholic church in Italy, bottle culture made a significant impact in the 1970s and became fairly entrenched. Although hospitals and pediatricians support breastfeeding in theory, the majority of hospitals use pacifiers, glucose and formula (and are sponsored by formula companies), instead of coaching the mother when breastfeeding difficulties arise. La Leche League reported that 85% of infants are breastfed at birth, while only 19% are breastfed at four to six months.
Source: La Leche League
Image Courtesy: © Beatrice and Francesca (mom) in Sardinia Island, Italy
||It is common to see mothers breastfeeding without shame or protests from passerby in Peru, even when breasts are exposed, as breastfeeding is considered normal and natural. Ninety-seven percent of Peruvian infants are breastfed at birth and 69% are breastfed exclusively from birth to five months. Out of these 69%, almost all (95%) breastfeed for an average of 20 months. Although Peru was one of the first countries to sign the WHO restrictions on marketing of breastmilk substitutes, globalization, formula advertising and images of bottle-feeding in U.S. sitcoms have caused a decrease in exclusive breastfeeding practices.
Source: La Leche League and ChildInfo
Image Courtesy: © Jonathan Templing
||Breastfeeding is encouraged by the Polish medical authorities for at least six months. Ninety-three percent of Polish babies are breastfed at birth, according to La Leche League. Although accepted, breastfeeding is surrounded by mixed messages from media, society and older generations.
Source: La Leche League
Image Courtesy: © Maria Puzyna
6. Sierra Leone
||Perhaps best remembered for the commotion around Selma Hayek breastfeeding one of its children, Sierra Leone has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, as well as the lowest rates of exclusive breastfeeding. There is a deeply held belief among many that colostrum, or first milk, is poisonous and that breastmilk doesn’t provide enough food for a baby, resulting in the introduction of solid foods often too early. While 51% of infants are breastfed at birth, only 11% are exclusively breastfed in the first five months of life.
Source: Unicef and ChildInfo
Image Courtesy: © Feije Riemersma
||While 95% of Indian infants are breastfed at birth, roughly 46% of infants are exclusively breastfed in India, according to UNICEF. Similar to Sierra Leone, many in rural areas believe colostrum is “dirty milk” and it is often expressed and discarded by breastfeeding mothers. Of those children who are breastfed, 77% are reportedly still breastfed at 21 to 23 months.
Source: UNICEF, ChildInfo and La Leche League
Image Courtesy: © Glenn Losack MD
8. United States
||Despite many of the heated public debates about public breastfeeding in the U.S., 45 states have laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location and 24 states have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. While 73% of all American infants have been breastfed at some point (even if only briefly), only 33% of infants under four months of age are exclusively breastfed. By the time infants reach six months of age, only 14% are still breastfed exclusively.
Source: World Health Organization and National Conference of State Legislatures
Image Courtesy: © Christy Scherrer
9. Democratic Republic of Congo
||Nearly two decades of war have led to high levels of food insecurity in DR Congo—31% of children under the age of five suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition. Amid these grim figures, a meager 39% of infants are breastfed at birth. Only 19% of infants under six months are exclusively breastfed.
Source: World Food Programme and UNICEF
Image Courtesy: © Babasteve
||The Australian Institute of Family Studies found that, contrary to WHO guidelines, 62% of Australian babies are already on solids at five months old. In 2008, the federal government allocated $2.5 million to fund a national breastfeeding helpline. The Australian Breastfeeding Association, an organization that promotes breastfeeding in Australia, reported fielding 250,000 counseling calls to breastfeeding mothers annually. Although 87% of babies are breastfed at birth, only 48% of babies continue to be at four to five months. By six months, 14% of babies are exclusively breastfed.
Source: Le Leche League and Essential Baby
Image Courtesy:© Zilia Korpas
||Historically, milk bonding relationships were very common in the Muslim world and extended family or neighbors would share in breastfeeding children the same age. In Islamic law, children suckled by the same woman (say, a wet nurse) are viewed like siblings, making them ineligible to ever marry one another. Despite the deep history of breastfeeding in the Muslim world, only 31% of babies are exclusively breastfed from birth to five months in Morocco (although 95% of babies have been breastfed at least once). Of those who do nurse, 57% are still breastfed at 12 to 15 months.
Source: WHO and ChildInfo
Image Courtesy: © Moos Wolfs
12. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
||Lao PDR has a high infant mortality rate, which is related to inappropriate breastfeeding and feeding practices that introduce solids too soon. Twenty-six percent of infants are exclusively breastfed from birth to five months. Of the small number who are breastfed, 82% are still breastfed at 12 to 15 months, which drops to 48% by 20 to 23 months. This mother nurses her child in a village clinic.
Source: Child Info and WHO
Image Courtesy: © Thomas A Riddle
||A majority (88%) of Canadian mothers breastfeed their babies at birth, if only for a short time. Over half (54%) of these mothers continued breastfeeding for six months or longer and half (24%) of those women breastfeed exclusively. Almost sixteen percent breastfeed for more than one year. Of the 13% of new mothers who did not attempt to breastfeed, 28% cited medical factors as the main reason for not breastfeeding, 25% said that breastfeeding was ”unappealing” or ”disgusting” and 19.5% claimed bottle feeding was easier. Women with a postsecondary diploma or degree were more likely to breastfeed than those without.
Source: Statistics Canada
Image Courtesy: © http://www.oneurbannest.wordpress.com/ Ottawa, Canada
||Nick in Portland, Oregon prefers breastfeeding his baby to his Buzz Lightyear toy.
Image Courtesy: © Sean Dreilinger
© 2012 – 2014, Staff. All rights reserved.
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