Save the Children ambassadors Natasha Kaplinsky, Myleene Klass and Isla Fisher recently visited Sierra Leone, Philippines and Brazil to better understand how breastfeeding is such a crucial lifesaver for babies in developing countries.
Save the Children has made dramatic progress, stopping children dying from preventable disease over the last decade, down from 12 million to 6.9 million in the last decade.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to tackle malnutrition; a simple, natural way to boost a baby’s immune system. Each hour 95 babies – 830,000 each year – could be saved if a mother breastfeeds in the first hour of life.
The enormous progress already made in reducing child mortality could be accelerated if more mums were encouraged to breastfeed.
Despite the startling statistics, global breastfeeding rates are stalling and actually declining across East Asia and in some of Africa’s most populous countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria.
The prevalence of traditional practices as well as a severe shortage of health workers and examples of inappropriate marketing techniques by some baby milk substitute companies, have contributed to this.
Save the Children Chief Executive Justin Forsyth said: “Despite the benefits of breastfeeding being widely known in the developed world, and it being a free, natural way to protect a newborn baby, too little attention is being paid to help mums breastfeed in poorer countries.”
Save the Children’s new report, Superfood for Babies, also highlights questionable marketing practices adopted by some breast milk substitute companies active in emerging markets.
Asia is a lucrative new market for the industry which is already worth £16 billion and set to grow as whole by 31% by 2015.
In East Asia and the Pacific, the number of breastfeeding mothers has fallen from 45% in 2006 to 29% in 2012.
Research by Save the Children in Asia found mothers who cited examples of marketing activity which violate the internationally agreed code for marketing of breast milk substitutes.
In Mexico, Save the Children found people giving their babies coffee. In other places butter.
Save the Children wants companies to do more to tell mothers about the free benefits of breast milk.
That’s why they are calling on two of the largest baby formula companies, Nestlé and Danone to give over a third of their product packaging to warnings of the potential health risks of not breastfeeding.
Find out more here.
Source: Save the Children UK