Policy Brief: Protecting breastfeeding to 24 months or beyond

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How countries can support breastfeeding by adopting new global guidance

Laws that protect against the inappropriate marketing of food products that compete with breastfeeding help mothers and caregivers make the best possible feeding choices for their children. The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant resolutions were established to accomplish this by setting guidelines that regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.

Despite the proven benefits of breastmilk, the market for breastmilk substitutes continues to grow. Since the adoption of the Code, products for older infants and children, including follow-up formula and growing-up milks, have proliferated. These products have been deemed unnecessary by the World Health Organization (WHO), especially when used as a breastmilk replacement from six months onward. Evidence shows that the promotion of such products undermines the WHO’s recommendation that infants be exclusively breastfed for six months and continue to receive breastmilk in addition to complementary foods for up to two years of age or beyond.

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