This Map Shows Where Breast-Feeding Protections Are Lacking

It's a seemingly simple fix that could save the lives of an estimated 820,000 children under 5: making breast-feeding common practice for the first six months of a baby's life.

But two out of three infants worldwide don't get that standard of nourishment. And it's been that way for decades.

That's according to an analysis cited in a new report by the World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).

One major barrier to increasing the rate, the report says, is a lack of laws that "protect and promote" breast-feeding. Just 135 of 194 countries analyzed had such laws in place, the report found. Monitoring and enforcement are also a problem.

The policies analyzed, recommended under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, are largely aimed at regulating the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, such as formulas. Those laws are necessary, the groups say, to curb improper and inaccurate advertising.

“Mothers deserve a chance to get the correct information: that they have readily available the means to protect the health and well-being of their children," UNICEF Chief of Nutrition Werner Schultink said in a statement. "Clever marketing should not be allowed to fudge the truth that there is no equal substitute for a mother’s own milk.”

The WHO recommends that babies be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life. Below, a map showing the range of protections, worldwide. The full report is available here.
Image: World Health Organization.

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