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    Community-based strategies for breastfeeding promotion and support in developing countries.

    Morrow A

    Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization [WHO], Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development, 2003. viii, 30 p.

    The importance of appropriate infant and young child feeding for child survival, growth and development is well known. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life confers important benefits on the infant and the mother. It protects infants against common childhood diseases, including repeated gastrointestinal infections and pneumonia, and hence against some of the major causes of childhood mortality. Timely introduction of adequate and safe complementary foods at six months of age helps to fill the dietary gaps that cannot be met by breast milk alone. Continued breastfeeding for two years or beyond confers major nutritional benefits and is an essential component of appropriate complementary feeding. Unfortunately, infant and young child feeding practices world-wide are not optimal. Global monitoring indicates that only 39% of all infants world-wide are exclusively breastfed, even when the assessment is made in children less than 4 months of age. The timely complementary feeding rate is similarly low with a global average of 60% in 2002. Much has been learned about effective interventions during the past decades. It is clear that mothers need support to initiate and sustain optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices – within the family, community, workplace and health system. During the past decade, the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative has been instrumental in directing necessary resources to improve the quality of feeding care in maternity services. As a result, there is an upwards trend in breastfeeding rates in various countries. (excerpt)
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