Breastfeeding is a child’s first vaccination, protecting them from illnesses and death. All types of childhood malnutrition, including wasting, may be prevented by starting nursing as soon as possible after delivery.
The benefits of breastfeeding are many. Non-breastfed infants are more prone to diarrhoea and death, especially in low-income nations. Breastfeeding moms may prevent almost half of diarrhoea and a third of respiratory illnesses. The most effective public health intervention is breastfeeding. We must give every kid the greatest possible start. It is a human right that should be preserved and encouraged.
Exclusive breastfeeding has increased by 50% in the past four decades. As a consequence, about 900 million babies have benefited from exclusive breastfeeding for survival, growth, and development. Despite the facts, many nations’ breastfeeding rates are much too low. It is estimated that just 44% of newborns are exclusively breastfed in the first six months, considerably below the worldwide goal of 50% by 2025.
The Code is as important now as it was 40 years ago, on May 21, 2021. We encourage baby formula producers to completely comply with the CODE requirements set by the World Health Assembly and its member nations.
The COVID-19 epidemic has disrupted access to newborn and child feeding programmes, threatening to undo much of the improvements achieved. Despite false claims by infant food marketers that nursing may transmit COVID-19, there is no reason to stop breastfeeding. The proof is obvious. Even if women have COVID-19, breastfeeding is safe for babies and young children. The many advantages of nursing much exceed the dangers of viral infection.
SARS-CoV-2 transmission from breastfeeding to infants has not been shown. WHO, UNICEF, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advise women to continue breastfeeding their babies if they have COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended for nursing mothers as well as adults. Vaccines may be given to healthy women who are nursing or expressing milk.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to both babies and moms. There was no research on the impact of mRNA or non-replicating vaccinations on nursing mothers or their children. The lack of evidence does not imply the vaccination is unsafe for nursing mothers or their infants. WHO advises women who have received the COVID-19 vaccination to continue breastfeeding.
World Breastfeeding Week 2018 theme ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’ highlights the importance of everyone supporting breastfeeding at all levels.
The UN Food Systems Summit in September and the Nutrition For Growth Summit in December 2021 are important occasions for governments, donors, civil society, and the business sector to step up and make sensible investments and pledges to address the global malnutrition problem, including wasting. They must also take concrete steps to promote and encourage breastfeeding, in particular.
This means enforcing strict legal procedures and independently monitoring health professionals’ and facilities’ compliance with the code.
Businesses and employers should adopt family-friendly policies that include paid maternity leave of at least 18 weeks. Returning to work prevents many women from nursing and delivering optimal nutrition. Donors should boost financing for breastfeeding programmes, counselling, and complete implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.