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Photo: 2008, Costa Rica

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Optimal breastfeeding together with complementary feeding help prevent malnutrition and can save about a million child lives.

Research shows that about 20 percent of neonatal (under age 1 month) deaths could be prevented if all newborns began breastfeeding during the first hour of life. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses - such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. Breastfeeding also helps mothers lose weight and reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer as well as type 2 diabetes. 

For more information on breastfeeding practices, please visit: www.paho.org/alimentacioninfantil

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

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