World Breastfeeding Week frames breastfeeding within sustainable development

Breastfeed to support your health and the environment.

Rates of breastfeeding in the U.S. are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continued progress has been made over the last decade across all race and ethnic groups from 2000 to 2008. Global and national organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is associated with many health promoting benefits. Organizers of World Breastfeeding Week are making the case that breastfeeding plays a significant role in not only the health of babies and mothers, but the planet.

The first week of August marked World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). The theme, Breastfeeding: a Key to Sustainable Development, aims to raise awareness on the links between breastfeeding and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Organizers state, “By recognizing that breastfeeding is a key to sustainable development, we will value our well-being from the start of life, respect each other and care for the world we share.” WBW organizers have created multilingual action folders that outline how breastfeeding is supportive to each of the Sustainable Development Goals and actions individuals from various levels can take to advance WBW goals.

Two of the four main themes reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals are specific to nutrition and health. A recently released publication of the National Academy of Medicine offers additional insight between breastfeeding and health. The publication released on Aug. 2 aims to provide further understanding between a possible protective factor breastfeeding offers against childhood obesity. The discussion paper, “Can Breastfeeding Protect Against Childhood Obesity?” scientist Rafael Perez-Escamilla, Ph.D of Yale University School of Public Health outlines evidence that supports the likelihood that a relationship exists between breastfeeding and lower risk for childhood obesity, shares the latest research to support this relationship and suggests future research ideas and questions to pursue. The full paper can be accessed here.  

Michigan State University Extension supports healthy feeding decisions parents make for their babies. For more information on World Breastfeeding Week and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s breastfeeding promotion program, visit:

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