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Breastmilk is the first food of champions! To celebrate breastfeeding in the context of the World Cup, PAHO/WHO invites you to submit photos of women breastfeeding their babies wearing national team colors. (Please note that for copyright purposes, we cannot use photos with logos clearly visible.) We welcome pictures of women breastfeeding the next generation of champions. Pictures of breastfeeding women surrounded by their partner, family, or friends are also welcome! The pictures will be used on a website that PAHO will launch prior to initiation of the games and in a video. To submit a picture, please complete the form below or click  here.


Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 10:17


These are some of the many benefits afforded by breastfeeding – to the baby, mother and community.

Breast milk protects against diseases

Breast milk is full of immunoglobulins that protect babies against pneumonia, diarrhea, ear infections, asthma, and other conditions.  Breastfeeding immediately after birth is important because newborns have immature immune systems.  This is why breastfeeding is also called “the first vaccine”.

The risk to die in the first month of life is 20% smaller in babies who are breastfed in the first hour of life. Newborns have very immature immune systems and are highly vulnerable.  Breast-milk offers immediate protection as well as immune stimulation. During the first month of life, non-breastfed babies are six times more likely to die compared to those breastfeed; between 9 and 11 months those not breastfed are 30% more likely to die. Suboptimum breastfeeding is estimated to cause 11.6% (804,000) of all deaths among infants in 2011. 

Breastfeeding saves costs associated with health care

One study found that for every 1,000 babies not breastfed, there were 2,033 extra physician visits, 212 extra hospitalization days, and 609 extra prescriptions for three illnesses alone – ear, respiratory, and gastrointestinal infection. In the United States alone, if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed for 6 months, $13 billion a year in pediatric health care costs would be saved and more than 900 deaths would be prevented.

Breastfeeding helps prevent overweight in children

Longer breastfeeding may reduce the risk of overweight and obesity by about 12%, helping fight the serious chronic diseases associated with these conditions.

Breastfeeding makes babies smarter

Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as children score 2 to 5 points higher on cognitive development scores than children who were not. Breastfeeding is also associated with higher educational achievement. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months compared to 4 months improves babies’ motor development.

Breastfeeding promotes attachment

Longer breastfeeding is associated with more sensitive maternal responsiveness and the emotional security that comes with attachment.

Breastfeeding protects mothers against breast and ovarian cancer

The risk of ovarian cancer is 27% and breast cancer 4% higher in women who do not breastfeed. The risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease is also increased if a woman does not breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is good for the environment

Human milk is a natural, renewable food that involves no packaging, transportation, or fuel to prepare. Every one million formula-fed babies consume 150 million containers of formula, many of which end up in landfills.

Breastfeeding is good for business

This is particularly important since women are the fastest growing segment of the workforce.  It reduces absenteeism and health care costs, improves employee retention, productivity and morale, and is good for public relations.  One-day absences to care for sick children occur more than twice as often for mothers of formula feeding infants.

Breastfeeding is good for the economy:

In the United States, if 90% of mothers were able to breastfeed for at least 1 year compared with the current rate of only 23%, a total of $17.4 billion in cost to society resulting from premature death, $733.7 million in direct and $126.1 million indirect morbidity costs resulting from excess cases of breast cancer, hypertension, and myocardial infarction would be averted.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 10:08

Breastfeeding: love and health for life

The Pan American Health Organization, the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization, has launched a campaign to reinvigorate efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding practices in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Breastfeeding is unique in that its consequences on the health of both mother and baby, on cognitive and emotional development and on the environment and economy cannot be achieved by any other food. In spite of this, rates of optimal breastfeeding practices are still low in the continent and even if breastfeeding initiation is almost universal, duration of exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding overall are still low.

To help to disseminate the messages about best breastfeeding practices to families, decision makers and the community, PAHO has engaged Matias, a character developed by Fernando Sendra, an Argentine cartoonist and a PAHO Champion of Health.


2015 calendar





Download Matias Desk Calendar

English | SpanishPortuguese |







Matias calendar 2015


Download Matias poster calendar:

EnglishSpanishPortuguese | French








Download the posters and promote good breastfeeding practices Breastfeeding is everyone’s responsibility

Breastfeeding is everyone’s responsibility English





For a healthy and smart baby
English | French




Find out here about the breastfeeding practices that make babies healthy, strong and happy.


Learn here why breastfeeding is good for the baby, mother and community.



The World Health Organization recommends that all mothers:

  • Breastfeed the baby within one hour after birth:  the baby should be put in contact with the mother’s skin, on her chest, immediately after birth to take advantage of the newborns innate ability to find the mother’s breast and begin suckling. Weighing, clinical exam, and bathing the baby can almost always wait.
  • Breastfeed exclusively for six months: breast-milk has all the nourishment the baby needs. A breastfed baby doesn’t need extra liquids, not even water, and giving sugared water, teas, or infant formula may lead to early termination of breastfeeding and introduce bacteria that can cause illness.
  • Breastfeed for two years or more: nutritious complementary foods should be introduced at six months of age, but breastfeeding should continue until the child is two years old or older.
  • Breastfeed the baby on demand. Babies have a small stomach and need to be fed on demand. Demand feeding increases milk production and prevents engorgement.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 10:05

Protocolo IGBM para Estimar la Prevalencia de Violaciones al Código Internacional de Comercialización de los Sucedáneos de la Leche Materna

 Protocolo IGBM para Estimar la Prevalencia de Violaciones al Código Internacional de Comercialización de los Sucedáneos de la Leche Materna 

Este documento presenta la información necesaria para implementar un estudio según el modelo del Grupo Interagencial de La Lactancia Materna (IGBM). El IGBM es una coalición  de organizaciones no gubernamentales creada con el fin de iniciar y supervisor un ejercicio de monitoreo para determinar si, y en qué medida, el Código Internacional de Comercialización de los Sucedáneos de la Leche Materna (“el Código”) ha sido violado en países seleccionados.  El estudio proporciona una vista en sección transversal del nivel de violación del Código en los sitios estudiados. La aplicación repetida del protocolo – y la comparación con la línea de base - puede ser usada para evaluar el éxito de implementación del Código. 

icon Protocolo IGBM para Estimar la Prevalencia de Violaciones al Código Internacional de Comercialización de los Sucedáneos de la Leche Materna

Last Updated on Monday, 10 March 2014 08:17
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Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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