UNICEF Stresses Need For Higher Breastfeeding Rates In East Asia

UNICEF “has voiced alarm at the decline of breastfeeding across East Asia, stressing the need for mothers to understand its long-term benefits for the survival and development of their children,” Bernama reports (5/2). In Thailand, as few as five percent of all mothers breastfeed, about 10 percent of mothers breastfeed in Vietnam, and approximately 28 percent of mothers do so in China, according to the U.N. News Centre. “The low breastfeeding rates across East Asia result from economic developments that enable more women to enter the workforce, as well as ‘aggressive’ marketing of infant formula in the region, [UNICEF] added in a news release,” the news service reports.

To help improve breastfeeding rates in the region, “UNICEF is calling on baby food companies to adhere to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes,” which “does not ban the sale of formulas, only the marketing practices that entice mothers to replace their breastmilk with commercial substitutes,” the U.N. News Centre writes, adding, “UNICEF is also working closely with businesses in the region to ensure that women can enjoy the right to adequate maternity leave and nursing breaks” (5/1). A UNICEF press release describes a recent series of high-level meetings in Vietnam during which “almost 200 elected bodies and National Assembly delegates reviewed international recommendations and their obligations to protect breastfeeding under Vietnam law” (5/1).