World Breastfeeding Week

Dmitry Kabanov

WHO recommends that mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed infants for the child's first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. In European countries, where data are available, breastfeeding rates for babies aged 3 months range from 22.7% to 97.6%. By 6 months, rates have fallen significantly, although progress has been made in many Member States of the WHO European Region. World Breastfeeding Week, from 1 to 7 August, seeks to support all women in feeding their infants and young children optimally.

This year, World Breastfeeding Week celebrates its 20th anniversary, which it shares with the establishment of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. This Initiative aims to give every baby the best start in life by creating a health-care environment where breastfeeding is the norm. Today, hospitals in over 150 countries are part of the Initiative.

It is also a decade since the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding was endorsed by WHO Member States and the UNICEF Executive Board, advancing efforts to protect, promote and support the appropriate feeding of infants and young children. The Strategy is the guiding framework through which WHO prioritizes research and development work in the area of infant and young child feeding and optimal nutrition, and provides technical support to countries to facilitate implementation.

In May this year, WHO’s Member States gave the Global Strategy a further boost by endorsing a comprehensive implementation plan for maternal, infant and young child nutrition. One of the plan’s six targets is for at least 50% of babies aged under 6 months to be exclusively breastfed by 2025.