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.
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.