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Imagine that the world had invented a new 'dream product' to feed and immunize everyone born on Earth.

Imagine also that it was available everywhere, required no storage or delivery — and helped mothers to plan their families and reduce the risk of cancer...

Then imagine that the world refused to use it...

(T)his scenario is not, alas, a fiction.

The 'dream product' is human breastmilk, available to us all at birth, and yet we are not using it.


UNICEF, 1991




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.

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Hesperian Health GuidesHesperian Health Guides is a nonprofit health information and health education source that develops accessible materials in many languages. Access free information aimed in Hesperian's HealthWiki related to nutritious food and basic health care for mothers and children.


Newborn babies and breastfeeding: Available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Filipino, French, Kreyol, Khmer, Swahili, Lao, Portuguese, Urdu
Breastfeeding from A Book for Midwives: Available in English and Spanish
Breastfeeding from Where Women Have No Doctor: Available in English and Spanish
Breastfeeding and caring for your baby for women with disabilities: Available in English and Spanish
Care during the first hours after birth: Available in English and Spanish
Care during the first weeks after birth: Available in English and Spanish
Caring for children: Available in English, Spanish, French, Swahili, and Portuguese
Childhood nutrition: Available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese
Helping Children Who Are Deaf: Available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese
Helping Children Who are Blind: Available in English and Spanish
Disabled Village Children: Available in English

More resources from Hesperian Health Guides



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.

ISSOP"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.

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