Global Breast Feeding Practices

The most comprehensive data on breast feeding come from the Demographic and Health Surveys conducted with support from the US Agency for International Development. These surveys are nationally representative and conducted throughout the developing world. In a number of countries, multiple surveys permit the analysis of trends. Overall, the data show that although the vast majority of women—more than 90% in all countries—initiate breast feeding, the duration of exclusive breast feeding is far less than the recommended 6 months (Table 2). In most countries, the duration of breast feeding is unchanged. Several countries are showing increases and in only one does there appear to be a decrease. However, concurrent with

Table 2 Trends in breast feeding practices

Country

Year

Initiation

Median duration

(%)

BF (months)

Exclusive

Any

BF

BF

Bolivia

1989

96.4

NA

16.9

1994

96.3

3.3

17.5

1998

96.6

3.9

18.0

Colombia

1986

NA

NA

11.6

1990

93.4

0.6

12.7

1995

94.5

0.5

11.3

2000

95.5

0.7

13.1

Costa Rica

1981

NA

NA

7.2

1986

NA

NA

9.3

1993

NA

NA

9.1

Dominican

1986

92.7

NA

8.1

Republic

1991

92.0

0.4

9.0

1996

93.2

0.6

7.6

Ecuador

1994

95.0

2.0

15.7

1999

97.0

2.2

15.5

El Salvador

1988

93.1

NA

15.2

1993

91.2

0.8

15.5

1998

94.0

0.9

17.7

Guatemala

1987

NA

NA

19.9

1995

95.6

1.7

19.8

1998

96.5

0.9

19.9

Haiti

1977

NA

NA

15.6

1994

96.3

0.4

17.5

2000

97.4

0.4

18.5

Honduras

1986

NA

NA

17.3

1991

NA

NA

17.2

1996

96.0

2.1

17.3

Jamaica

1989

96.0

NA

12.4

1993

94.0

NA

12.4

Nicaragua

1992-1993

91.9

0.6

12.3

1998

92.4

0.7

12.2

Paraguay

1990

92.8

0.4

10.5

1995/6

93.6

0.3

11.4

1998

94.2

NA

11.5

Peru

1991-1992

96.0

0.8

17.3

1996

96.8

2.7

19.5

2000

97.8

4.2

21.6

BF, breast feeding; NA, not available.

BF, breast feeding; NA, not available.

the time period during which the surveys took place, numerous demographic changes occurred that are negatively associated with breast-feeding, such as increased female employment and education and increased urbanization. When adjusted for these changes, highly significant improvements in breast feeding are seen in many countries, particularly those in which breast feeding promotion efforts have been most active.

See also: Infants: Nutritional Requirements; Feeding Problems. Lactation: Physiology; Dietary Requirements. United Nations Children's Fund. World Health Organization.

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.

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