10 facts on breastfeeding

Updated February 2014

A young African woman sits and breastfeeds her baby.
WHO/H. Anenden

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival.

If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding counselling and support are essential for mothers and families to initiate and maintain optimal breastfeeding practices.

WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. This fact file explores the many benefits of the practice, and how strong support to mothers can increase breastfeeding worldwide.

Read 10 facts about breastfeeding

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