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Economic and Political Weekly. 1983 Dec 10; 18(50):2099.This article summarizes World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on breastfeeding issued in 1982 and discusses their policy implications for India. The WHO document notes that early use of combined oral contraceptives (OCs) after childbirth may both decrease breast milk production and cause women to abandon the pill, denying them the contraceptive protection they would have had if lactation had proceeded uninterrupted. The WHO paper further notes the possible adverse effects on infants exposed to synthetic sex steroids secreted in the breast milk of users of hormonal contraception. This suggests that family planning programs should consider the special needs of breastfeeding women in determining the contraceptive methods to be promoted. Grassroots family planning wokers are in special need of intensive instruction in this area. WHO additionally calls for social and health support systems which encourage breastfeeding and urges that such initiatives form an integral component of family planning programs. WHO's emphasis on breastfeeding as a means of averting births rather than strictly as a means of improving child health is expected to attract the interest of policymakers.