Babies who are breastfed are generally healthier and achieve optimal growth and development compared to those who are fed formula milk. Additionally, breastfeeding greatly improves short and long term maternal health.
Research shows that the best feeding option globally is initiation of breastfeeding within the first half-hour of life, exclusive breastfeeding for a full six months, safe, age-appropriate and adequate complementary foods from six months, and continued breastfeeding through the second year or beyond.
Evidence shows that early initiation can prevent 22% of all deaths among babies below one month in developing countries.
If the vast majority of babies were exclusively fed breastmilk in their first six months of life – meaning only breastmilk and no other liquids or solids, not even water – it is estimated that the lives of at least 1.2 million children would be saved every year
. If children continue to be breastfed up to two years and beyond, the health and development of millions of children would be greatly improved.
| International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health (ISSOP) Position Statement on sponsorship of paediatricians/paediatric societies by the Baby Feeding Industry
Infant and young child feeding is central to child health and, after birth, breastfeeding is the first act of provision by a mother for her child. For most of history no other third party was required to support infant feeding other than the mother and the surrounding family. It is only since the commercial development of breast milk substitutes in the nineteenth century that health professionals have become involved in their prescription.
"In recent years, the commercialisation of infant feeding has impacted on professional practice through the development of sponsorship by the Baby Feeding Industry of medical conferences and meetings, along with gifts to health workers.
It is the view of ISSOP that this sponsorship is damaging to the reputation of paediatricians, to the health of mothers and infants, and to the status of breastfeeding and this statement explains the reasons why we believe that such sponsorship should be terminated."
>> Download ISSOP Position Statement
ISSOP is hopeful that the Position Statement will be used with paediatric societies and associations around the world to ensure that paediatricians and other health professionals avoid conflicts of interest, and protect breastfeeding as one of the most health promoting measures in the field of child health.
*The term Baby Feeding Industry refers to all commercial companies which market infant formula or other infant feeding products.