January 29th, 2016

Breastfeeding could prevent 800,000 child deaths, Lancet says

By Kate Hodal
The Guardian

If almost every mother breastfed her children it could prevent more than 800,000 child deaths a year, yet governments are failing to promote and support breastfeeding, with rates remaining far below international targets, new research has found.

Poor government policies, lack of community support and an aggressive formula milk industry mean breastfeeding is not as widespread as it could be, according to a two-part Lancet breastfeeding series published on Thursday.

Advertisements presenting formula milk as just as good as, if not better than, breast milk have along with free samples fuelled the industry in emerging markets. In Brazil, where hospitals, communities and the government all promote breastfeeding, the formula milk market is still projected to be worth $950bn within three years. The market is set to grow 7% in the Middle East and Africa, and 11% in Asia Pacific by 2019.

Promoting breast milk not only has social, medical and economic benefits, it is also environmentally friendly, the authors argue, as more than 4,000 litres of water are needed to produce a kilo of formula powder.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/jan/28/breastfeeding-could-prevent-800000-child-deaths-lancet-says

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