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article imageLarge national variations in breastfeeding rates

By Tim Sandle     Feb 8, 2016 in Health
London - New figures, published by the medical journal The Lancet, show considerable variation between countries in terms of breastfeeding. The U.K. comes out very low.
There are many health benefits for a baby from breastfeeding. For example, scientists have demonstrated that breastfeeding beneficially influences a baby's immune system development. This is due to beneficial microorganisms contained within breast milk. Moreover, breastfeeding additionally reduces susceptibility to allergies and asthma. In addition, breastfeeding appears to help an infant move from consuming milk to eating solid foods more easily than if a baby is bottle-fed.
It also stands that women who breastfeed themselves have lower obesity rates. This was based on a study into 740,000 post-menopausal females in the U.K.
With the health benefits established, the take-up rate continues to remain variable worldwide. In some cases there are good reasons in terms of women who cannot breastfeed. However, a number opt to use formula milk to meet lifestyle choices.
The U.K. appears to have the worst level of breastfeeding in the world, according to the BBC’s assessment of the published data. With this, 81 percent of mothers had tried breastfeeding; however, by the time the baby was six months old only 34 percent continue to breastfeed. By the time the child is one year old, less than one percent of mothers breastfeed.
In contrast, in the U.S., slightly fewer mothers start breastfeeding — at 79 percent. However, at six months 49 percent were still breastfeeding and 27 percent continued to do so when the infant was 12 months old.
Other rates at 12 months are:
9 percent of mothers in Canada;
23 percent of mothers in Germany;
56 percent in Brazil;
99 percent in Senegal.
In terms of the reasons, one finding from the survey is that too many British mothers think breastfeeding is something only done in poorer countries and that formula milk is an adequate alternative. This is despite the official government recommendation being that women continue to breastfeed until their child is at least six months old.
According to the World Health Organization, breast milk should be actively encouraged: “The active and aggressive promotion of breast milk substitutes by their manufacturers and distributors continues to be a substantial global barrier to breastfeeding. Promotion and marketing have turned infant formula, which should be seen as a specialized food that is vitally important for those babies who cannot be breastfed, into a normal food for any infant.”
A special edition of the medical journal Lancet is devoted to the subject of breastfeeding. The lead editorial is titled “Breastfeeding: achieving the new normal”
More about Breastfeeding, breast fed, Breast, Breast milk, Children
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