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    The surge of new interest in breastfeeding. Why now?

    Shelton J

    In: Lactation education for health professionals, edited by Rosalia Rodriguez-Garcia, Lois A. Schaefer, Joao Yunes. Washington, D.C., Pan American Health Organization [PAHO], 1990. 113-20. (USAID Contract No. DPE-3040-A-00-5064-00)

    The practice breastfeeding has begun receiving increased interest, generated in part by better a understanding of its beneficial consequences. Evidence shows that breastfeeding greatly reduces level infant mortality and morbidity. A 1989 study in Brazil concluded that a breastfed child has 14.2x less likely to die from diarrhea, 3.6x less likely to die from respiratory infection, and 2.5x less likely to die from other infections. Besides its well-documented immunological properties, studies have shown that breastmilk can adapt, over time, to meet the changing needs of an infant. The practice of breastfeeding has also demonstrated contraceptive effects. Women who are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding, amenorrheic, and less than 6 months postpartum have 98% protection against pregnancy. Furthermore, longer birth spacing results in healthier mothers and infants. The renewed interest in breastfeeding is also the result of breastfeeding promotion campaigns, the successes of other child survival intervention programs, and the collaboration of international agencies. A study in Honduras indicates that promotional campaigns (involving the education of the public and the medical community) significantly increases the average duration of breastfeeding. And a study in brazil shows that the use of mass media can increase the prevalence of breastfeeding. Health care professional have also been encouraged by the success of oral dehydration and immunization campaigns, which have a natural link to breastfeeding, and the establishment of the Interagency Group of Action on Breastfeeding, a collaborative effort by 5 international agencies. With the increasing interest, health care officials hope to reverse the decline in the practice of breastfeeding.
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