Breastfeeding Saves 6M Infants Annually; HIV-Positive Mothers Need More Support, Attention, Report Says
Breastfeeding saves the lives of six million infants worldwide annually, and more than twice that number could be saved if more women breastfed their infants for a longer period of time, according to a new report released on Monday by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/21). The report also says the issue of HIV/AIDS and breastfeeding needs more attention, and HIV-positive mothers need more support and counseling about how to breastfeed without transmitting the virus to their infants. According to the report, breastfeeding rates have increased 15% since 1990, but only 39% of infants in developing countries are exclusively breastfed, mostly because of a lack of awareness among mothers and not enough support from health care workers. Breastmilk provides infants with optimal nourishment and protects them from diseases such as pneumonia, the report says. The report recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed up to six months old, after which time mothers should practice complementary breastfeeding for at least two years (UNICEF release, 11/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.