Exclusive Breastfeeding for a Healthier Future

Breast milk is an essential source of nutrients needed for optimal child growth and development, at least for the first 6 months after birth. UNICEF in 2018 reported a global exclusive breastfeeding rate of 41%, with the highest prevalence recorded in Rwanda (87%) and one of the lowest rates recorded in Nigeria (23%). To promote Breastfeeding globally, the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) focused on exclusive breastfeeding was introduced jointly by the WHO and UNICEF in 1991.

Exclusive Breastfeeding can prevent over 800,000 under five deaths globally, 87% of which are under 6 months of age (Lancet, 2013). Also, a 10% reduction in the prevalence of obesity was observed among children exposed to longer periods of breastfeeding (WHO, 2013). Furthermore, studies have highlighted that mothers also benefit tremendously from breastfeeding. In 2015, WHO reported that mothers who breastfed their children for 12 months had a lower risk of developing breast cancer; thereby preventing a potential 20,000 maternal deaths from breast cancer yearly.

Given that breastfeeding helps to reduce the prevalence of a number of diseases, how do we get more mothers to breastfeed their children exclusively? Are there other benefits associated with breastfeeding for mother and child?


To get more mothers to breastfeed their children exclusively, i would suggest an awareness program for mothers on the benefits of breast feeding for the child and mother, so many people are not aware of the health benefits attached to breastfeeding since they only see breastfeeding as food to the child. This awareness could even be in form of adverts on TV, radio stations and the social media since this is the best way to get attention of the public and it will help promote exclusive breastfeeding.


Great suggestions Bisola. I think we need more TV programs to promote health on breastfeeding and a number of other issues. Previously, there were some programs sponsored by UNFPA and UNICEF.

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In addition to health benefits, some studies suggest there may be a difference in brain development between exclusively breastfed and formula-fed babies [1]. More indicate that breastfed babies have higher intelligence scores and are less likely to develop problems with behaviour and learning as they grow older [2].

On the other hand, mothers who breastfeed seem less likely to develop postpartum depression, compared to mothers who do not breastfeed. It is known that breastfeeding causes several hormonal changes, with one of the most pronounced change being the increase in the amount of oxytocin produced [3]. Oxytocin appears to have long-term anti-anxiety effects & encourages bonding and maternal caregiving by affecting specific brain regions that promote nurturing and relaxation [4] [5].

The benefits of breastfeeding, both ways, are truly immense.

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Nursing centers?


Wow! Great answer! You basically highlighted a number of important benefits that parents should be aware of. specific programs should be put in place to translate these benefit to the people.

Yes,this is a good one. But do you care to go into detail?

For starters, nursing centers or a nursing room can be integrated into the workspace. Provisions should be made for nursing mothers to breastfeed their child at work.
It might seem far-fetched but it is quite achievable considering the mother can be more productive at work

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Good suggestion especially women in rural areas, theirs should be in the form of leaflets and if possible using the local dialect or vanacular when necessary to help educate and drive home the message since they might not be too conversant with social media or listen to news regularly .

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@doubleohspage4 Welcome to APHEN and thanks for your first post! :grin:
Information in leaflets especially using local dialects is a very good idea :100: