Cover Image
close this bookBreastfeeding: from Biology to Policy (UNSSCN, 1998, 28 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUnited Nations Administrative Committee on Coordination - Sub-Committee on Nutrition
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe biology of breastfeeding
View the documentGlobal patterns
View the documentBarriers to optimal breastfeeding
View the documentBreaking the barriers with the baby-friendly community initiative - the Gambia
View the documentPolicy issues
View the documentA challenge to SCN member agencies
View the documentReferences
View the documentClosing Remark made after Ms Semega-Janneh's Lecture
View the documentComment form the Reviewer

The biology of breastfeeding

It has been a popular belief that breastfeeding benefits mostly non-industrialized countries because breastmilk is a clean, 'cheap' food in light of inadequate resources and poor sanitary conditions. Today we know differently as research continues to show its benefits for both industrialised and non-industrialised countries (Cunningham et al., 1992).

In discussing the health benefits of breastfeeding, the emphasis is usually on the infant. Breastfeeding however, is not a private matter between the breasts and the infant as can be misconstrued from pictures of infants feeding from 'faceless' breasts. Breastfeeding is a process that involves two individuals: the mother or the 'breastfeeder' as the producer, and the infant as the consumer. The process benefits both the producer and the consumer and this is very important to highlight in breastfeeding promotion programmes. It is also crucial for the breastfeeding mother to know this.

Future research might yet discover further benefits of breastfeeding for both a mother and her infant. It is time for women to recognize the importance, the uniqueness and value of their breasts. Maybe it is also time for women to start insuring these extremely valuable assets - their breasts!

The World Summit for Children was held in 1990 and one of its goals was the 'empowerment of all women to breastfeed their children exclusively for four to six months and to continue breastfeeding whit complementary food, well into the second year'.