Breastfeeding saves lives and is fundamental to a child’s health, growth and development.
Importance of Breastfeeding
Exclusive breastfeeding (a diet of breast milk only with no other liquids or solids, not even water) for the first six months of a child's life is one of the most important and cost-effective interventions to ensure a child's survival, healthy growth and development. It maximises a child’s physical and mental potential by supporting the rapid growth and critical brain development that occurs from birth to two years of age. Appropriate breastfeeding has a high impact on reducing infant and child mortality. Babies not exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life have a 14 times higher risk of death than infants who are exclusively breastfed. The Lancet points out that not breastfeeding is associated with lower intelligence and economic losses of about $302 billion annually or 0.49% of world gross national income.
Breast milk is free of charge and universally available, even in very resource-constrained settings, yet only 44% of babies globally are exclusively breastfed in the first six months, which falls far short of the 2030 global target of 70 per cent; and less than half of newborn babies are breastfed in the first hour of life. (FAO 2022)
WORLD VISION'S POSITION
- Initiating breastfeeding during the first hour after delivery;
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (no other liquids or solids, apart from medicines as directed by a doctor);
- Continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond (with the introduction of appropriate complementary foods beginning at six months of age).
World Vision's management policy on the procurement and use of milk and milk-derived products in field programmes was developed in 1991 and most recently updated in 2021 to ensure effective infant and young child feeding practices and avoidance of harm to children.
World Vision is a member of the Global Breastfeeding Collective and supports the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitute.