Intl. Women’s Groups Urge Support for Breast-Feeding

A group of international women’s urged attendees of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to help reverse worldwide declines in breast-feeding by encouraging government to support nursing mothers.

International Women Count’s Selma James stated “Out aim is to show what society loses in health and welfare when breast-feeding is not properly valued and protected. Uncovering the economic value of breast-feeding will raise the social value of the women who does it.”

In a report on the economic benefits of breast-feeding, researchers calculated that the annual costs for treating illnesses that can be reduced or avoided by breast feeding are enormous. For instance, they noted that Indonesia pays an estimated $40 million each year to treat childhood diarrhea caused by a decline in breast-feeding. This cost constitutes 20% of Indonesia’s entire health budget.

The report also stressed that breast-feeding has been found to reduce rates of premenopausal breast cancer, osteoporosis, and anemia in women, and is also environmentally friendly by encouraging population control. Report authors contended that breast-feeding provides “more months of child spacing than all technological contraceptive methods combined.”

Women’s and children’s organizations including International Women Count, World Alliance for Breast-Feeding Action, UNICEF, and the U.N. Children’s Fund have all communicated their support for this report.


Washington Post - March 4, 1999

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