e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Breastfeeding education for increased breastfeeding duration

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the mother and infant. Breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life. Breastfeeding protects against diarrhoea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, and may also have longer-term health benefits for the mother and child: current evidence suggests that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of children developing certain noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, hypertension and type II diabetes later in life.

WHO recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or more.

Evidence suggests that educational interventions during pregnancy (e.g. peer counselling, lactation consultation or formal breastfeeding education) may increase the duration of breastfeeding, however further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

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Last update:

25 March 2014 13:36 CET

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Biological, behavioural and contextual rationale