In addition to the health benefits for the baby and the nursing mother, breastfeeding contributes to sustainable development and toward reducing social inequality. This is the message of this year's edition of the World Breastfeeding Week campaign which begins Monday (Aug. 1st) and runs until August 7. In Brazil, the campaign is run by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Brazilian Pediatrics Society (SBP).
Elsa Giugliani, chair of the SBP's Breastfeeding Science Department, says breastfeeding can contribute toward achieving several of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as expressed in 169 targets which form the core of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Giugliani explains, for example, that breastfeeding is connected with health and well-being, social inequality reduction, and environment and conservation-related goals. “There's no question that breastfeeding is associated with health, concerning not only the present state, but also [prevention of] diseases in the future,” she said.
She listed a number of infant infections that can be prevented with breast milk—diarrhea, pneumonia, ear infection, asthma, among others. It also helps prevent diabetes, overweight, and obesity. Moreover, she said, nursing mothers are less prone to diabetes and breast cancer.
“Breastfeeding is also very inclusive—it's available to all social classes, to poor and rich women alike. And it's regarded as one of the few good health practices that are more common in poorer countries, among poorer women,” she said.
The pediatrician also said breastfeeding is environment-friendly and is not resource-intensive as are infant formulas and artificial milks that entail thorough manufacturing processing. “There's no need for milk production, no waste, no power use, no water, no fuel needed,” she said.
Elsa Giugliani pointed out that public policies and educational initiatives have helped improve breastfeeding indicators in recent decades. The breastfeeding period went from 2.5 months in the 1970's to over 12 months nowadays.
The World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated since 1992. It was introduced by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an advisory body to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The Ministry of Health says it is an important opportunity to educate the population and health workers about the importance of breastfeeding for the mother's and the baby's health, and the benefits it provides to the society and the country.
Translated by Mayra Borges
Fonte: Agência Brasil.