World Breastfeeding Week: Breast milk is a baby’s first vaccine

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and other international organizations are offering up tips and reasons why it’s important to breastfeed.

Last week, UNICEF released new information about breastfeeding’s benefits in anticipation of World Breastfeeding Week. The United Nations organization is urging new mothers to breastfeed within an hour after birth as breast milk is a child’s first vaccine. Newborn deaths still represent half of all child deaths under age 5, and immediate breastfeeding would greatly reduce that number.

“Early and exclusive breastfeeding helps children survive, but it also supports healthy brain development, improves cognitive performance and is associated with better educational achievement at age 5. Breastfeeding is the foundation of good nutrition and protects children against disease.  In this way, breastfeeding allows all children to thrive and develop to their full potential,” UNICEF said.

A breastfed child is six times more likely to survive in its first few months, and a child who only receives breast milk is 14 times less likely to die within the first six months.

World Breastfeeding Week began in 1992, and is supported by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development” in reference to the links between benefits from breastfeeding and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a list of universal goals established by world leaders in 2015 to fight poverty, inequality and climate change.

Learn more here.

Credit: World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action

Credit: World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action

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