South African Department of Health celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

The South African Department of Health will be celebrating World Breastfeeding Week from the 1st August to 7th August 2005. World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) takes place annually from the 1st to 7th August and was created by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in 1990.

The week raises awareness about breastfeeding through different themes. The theme for 2005 is breast-feeding and family foods (feeding beyond six months), which aims to draw attention to the value of continuing to breastfeed children to two years and beyond while introducing other foods and drinks correctly and safely.

This year's theme aims to:

  • Draw attention to the value of continuing to breastfeed children to 2 years or beyond.
  • Raise awareness of the risks and costs of introducing other foods and drinks to breastfed babies before 6 months, thereby strengthening support for 6 months exclusive breastfeeding.
  • Up-date information and ideas about the kinds of other foods and drinks needed by older breastfed babies and young children after 6 months.
  • Share ideas for making complementary feeding easier, healthier and a time for learning and love.

Breastfeeding continues to be important for children's nutrition, development and care after six months. On average, breastfed babies of 6-8 months obtain 70% of their energy needs from breast milk, this falls to around 55% at 9-11 months and 40% at 12-23 months. Breast milk is also a major provider of protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and protective factors. It provides more nutrients in 1ml than most of the other foods.

If babies' stomachs are filled with nutritionally poor foods, they will take less breast milk and their overall diet and health will be inferior. The contribution of breast milk is often overlooked in the enthusiasm to get complementary feeding started. Other foods should be given in a way that they will add to the nutritional contribution of breast milk, rather than replace it.

Nationwide celebrations of the World Breastfeeding Week will take place and members of the public are urged to contact their nearest health facility for more information.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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