World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated worldwide for the past 20 years.
It was started by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in 1992 to promote breastfeeding through supporting families and healthcare providers.
In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released a joint strategy for feeding infants and young children with the purpose of reducing malnutrition.
The WHO-UNICEF committee concluded exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding to at least one year of age with the introduction of appropriate local complementary foods at six months of age is the most effective means of reducing malnutrition in infants and young children.
According to a 2011 UNICEF report on the status of the world's children, only 32.6 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 201 Breastfeeding Report Card for the United States showed only 13.3 percent of all U.S. infants are exclusively breastfed at six months and in Indiana, 10.5 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months.
The U.S. Healthy People 2020 Objective for Breastfeeding is to meet a target rate of 25.5 percent exclusive breastfeeding through six months.
Although Indiana and the U.S. might be behind the rest of the world on exclusive breastfeeding, according to the CDC 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card, initiation rates have been increasing with the U.S. at 75 percent, and Indiana at 70.5 percent. Supporting breastfeeding moms and babies will help the U.S. catch up with the rest of the world.
In recognition of breastfeeding mothers and babies, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will sign a World Breastfeeding Month Proclamation at this year's Indiana State Fair.
For more information about breastfeeding, contact Liz Wheby, RD, CD, Clay County Women, Infant, Children Program, at 442-0573.