Only one in five countries fully implements WHO's infant formula code

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[Photo: WHO/Inés Calderon]

Only 20 percent of countries reporting have passed laws that fully implement the World Health Organization's (WHO) infant formula code, according to a new WHO report.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, as the code is formally known, promotes breastfeeding as a way of improving the health and nutrition of infants and young children.

It is also one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival, says WHO.

Dr. Carmen Cassanovas with WHO's Department of Nutrition says there is an appropriate way to breastfeed.

“Starting breastfeeding within the first hour of life with skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant, exclusive breastfeeding–that is that the baby is not receiving anything but breast milk during the first six months of life–and continued breastfeeding with appropriate foods until two years of age or beyond.”

But mothers are often inundated with incorrect and biased information both directly, through advertising, health claims, information packs and sales representatives, and indirectly through the public health system, the report notes.

The report comes out in commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week, observed in more than 170 countries from 1-7 August.

Gerry Adams, United Nations.

Duration: 1'24"

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