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Journal of Human Lactation. 2012 Aug; 28(3):272-5.The BFHI provides a framework for addressing the major factors that have contributed to the erosion of breastfeeding, that is, maternity care practices that interfere with breastfeeding. Until practices improve, attempts to promote breastfeeding outside the health service will be impeded. Although inappropriate maternity care cannot be held solely responsible for low exclusive breastfeeding rates and short breastfeeding duration, appropriate care may be a prerequisite for raising them. In many industrialized countries, BFHI activities were slow to start. Over the past 10 years and as the evidence was becoming increasingly solid and the commitment of health workers and decision makers has become stronger, considerable efforts are being made in most industrialized countries to implement the BFHI. However, coordinators of the BFHI in industrialized countries face obstacles to successful implementation that appear unique to these countries. Problems reported include opposition from the health care establishment, lack of support from national authorities, and lack of awareness or acceptance of the need for the initiative among government departments, the health care system, and parents. It is worth highlighting these facts to enable the BFHI coordinators in these countries to make well-designed and targeted plans with achievable objectives. Strengthening and scaling up the BFHI is an undisputed way to reduce infant mortality and improve quality of care for mothers and children. The BFHI has had great impact on breastfeeding practices. Reflecting new infant feeding research findings and recommendations, the tools and courses used to change hospital practices in line with Baby-Friendly criteria are available and ready to be used and implemented. Governments should ensure that all personnel who are involved in health, nutrition, child survival, or maternal health are fully informed and energized to take advantage of an environment that is conducive to revitalizing the BFHI; incorporate the basic competencies for protection, promotion, and support of optimal infant and young child feeding, including the BFHI, into all health-worker curricula, whether facility- or community-based health workers; and recognize that the BFHI has a major role to play in child survival and more so in the context of HIV/AIDS. The World Health Organization and UNICEF strongly recommend using this new set of materials to ensure solid and full implementation of the BFHI global criteria and sustain progress already made. It is one way of improving child health and survival, and it is moving ahead to put the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in place, thus moving steadily to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Weaning practices of the Makushi of Guyana and their relationship to infant and child mortality: A preliminary assessment of international recommendations.
American Journal of Human Biology. 2006 May-Jun; 18(3):312-324.The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first 6 months of life, primarily because of potential immunological benefits which are deemed to outweigh nutritive costs for infants. This recommendation is controversial, as studies of the relationship between the term of EBF and infant and child health have produced conflicting results. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the relationship between the term of EBF and infant and child mortality among a group of swidden-horticulturalists in lowland South America. Consistent with the WHO, we hypothesized that EBF < 6 months will compromise the survival of the infant or child. This relationship was assessed via recall data generated in 2001 in structured interviews with 60 Makushi Amerindian women in Guyana's North Rupununi region. The data were analyzed with t-tests, Fisher's exact test, and logistic regression. The results do not support our hypothesis; the term of EBF is not found to be related to infant or child mortality. This is surprising given the potential for contamination in nonbreast-milk foods in this environment. Notably, this is occurring among mothers who are not energetically stressed. We propose that the apparent lack of benefit of EBF = 6 months is due to insufficient energy supply from breast milk alone, which may predispose the child to morbidity when subsequently stressed. This study concurs with others which revealed no significant benefits to the infant of EBF > 6 months, and the recognition that universal recommendations must be situated within local ecological contexts. (author's)
Length of exclusive breastfeeding: linking biology and scientific evidence to a public health recommendation.
Journal of Nutrition. 2000; 130:1335-1338.The objective of this commentary is to briefly review key issues related to i) the uses of energy balance vs. growth to determine the recommended length of extended breast feeding; ii) the merits as well as criticisms of the most recent scientific evidence on its recommended length; and iii) the conceptual and practical issues in using this information to make a public health recommendation. (excerpt)