UK med­i­cal jour­nal hails breast-feed­ing

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Lancet, the lead­ing med­i­cal re­search jour­nal, is call­ing for pos­i­tive so­cial at­ti­tudes to­ward breast-feed­ing, stricter pol­icy in­ter­ven­tions and bet­ter reg­u­la­tion of the breast milk sub­sti­tute in­dus­try to in­crease world­wide the prac­tice for the health and eco­nomic ben­e­fits for women.

Moth­ers are 2.5 times more likely to breast-feed where breast­feed­ing is pro­tected, pro­moted and sup­ported, ac­cord­ing to Robert Scherp­bier, Chief of Health, Nu­tri­tion and Water, San­i­ta­tion and Hy­giene of UNICEF China.

Breast-feed­ing rates can be dra­mat­i­cally in­creased in a very short time, with a pack­age of ac­tions, poli­cies and pro­grams to sup­port moth­ers at health fa­cil­i­ties, at home and at work, he said.

Scherp­bier made the re­mark dur­ing the Lancet Breast-feed­ing Series Launch Event held in Bei­jing on Thurs­day.

The event was jointly held by China Devel­op­ment Re­search Foun­da­tion, Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, UNICEF and World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Lancet, in ad­di­tion to ben­e­fits for mother’s health, the es­ti­mated health ben­e­fits of breast-feed­ing could trans­late to re­duced an­nual health­care costs to­tal­ing $312 mil­lion in the US, $48 mil­lion in the UK and $30.3 mil­lion in ur­ban China.

How­ever, a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence shows women world­wide do not have the sup­port they need to breast-feed, as lim­ited ma­ter­nity pro­tec­tion poli­cies pre­vent many from op­ti­mally breast-feed­ing, in­clud­ing short ma­ter­nity leaves, gaps in knowl­edge and skills and fam­ily and cul­tural tra­di­tions.

The breast milk sub­sti­tute in­dus­try has also un­der­mined breast-feed­ing, with global breast milk sub­sti­tutes sales be­tween 2014 to 2019 pro­jected to in­crease from $45 bil­lion to $71 bil­lion. Growth is ex­pected to be high­est in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, the Mid­dle East and Africa.

The govern­ment should not only dis­sem­i­nate ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion on the value of breast­feed­ing

Suc­cess in breast­feed­ing is not the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of a woman, the pro­mo­tion of breast-feed­ing is a col­lec­tive so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity.” Cao Bin, child health di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Ma­ter­nal and Child Health of the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion

and foster a pos­i­tive so­cial at­ti­tude, but also reg­u­late the breast milk sub­sti­tute in­dus­try to re­in­force a breast-feed­ing cul­ture, it said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cao Bin, child health di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Ma­ter­nal and Child Health of the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, China has made sub­stan­tial progress in re­in­forc­ing a breast-feed­ing cul­ture in re­cent years.

“We have come up with con­sult­ing hot­lines and grow­ing mother and-baby rooms in public places to scale up the qual­ity and cov­er­age of care for women and their new­borns,” said Cao.

“Suc­cess in breast-feed­ing is not the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of awoman, the pro­mo­tion of breast-feed­ing is a col­lec­tive so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

How­ever, Cao also men­tioned chal­lenges and dif­fi­cul­ties still lie ahead for a breast­feed­ing-friendly com­mu­nity in the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Scherp­bier, rates of breast-feed­ing world wide have not sub­stan­tially in­creased in the past two decades, and most coun­tries are off track to meet the global tar­get.

“China has played a role model in many fields,” said Scherp­bier. “More coun­tries need to in­vest in the poli­cies and pro­grams that sup­port women’s breast-feed­ing de­ci­sions.”

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