UN marks World Breastfeeding Week with call for stronger workplace policies for nursing mothers

United Nations officials are marking the annual World Breastfeeding Weekby highlighting the vital importance of a practice that gives children the healthiest start in life and the need to strengthen policies to promote nursing with stronger workplace policies.

The Queen at an informal  nursery

The Queen at an informal nursery

The theme for this year’s observance, held from 1 to 7 August, is “Women and work – Let’s make it work,” which emphasizes the need for better support systems and policies to enable working mothers to breastfeed.

“We know that breastfeeding helps children to survive and thrive – enabling infants to withstand infections, providing critical nutrients for the early development of their brains and bodies, and strengthening the bond between mothers and their babies. And the benefits of breastfeeding last a lifetime,” said the heads of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Anthony Lake, and the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, in a joint statement.

The statement points out that a recent Lancet study found that infants who were breastfed for at least one year went on to stay in school longer, score higher on intelligence tests and earn more as adults than those who were breastfed for only a month. Despite this growing evidence, only 38 per cent of infants around the world today are breastfed exclusively for even the recommended first six months of life.breastfeeding2 breastfeeding3