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Breastfeeding - basis for life

31/2018, 28.09.2018

To mark the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week from 1 to 7 October 2018, the National Breastfeeding Committee at the BfR is emphasising the importance of breastfeeding for both mother and child

Breast milk is the natural and ideal nutrition for infants. It is easily digestible, it contains antibodies, it's always available, it's hygienically perfect, it's always at just the right temperature and it doesn't have to be prepared in advance. For this reason, this year's World Breastfeeding Week from 1 to 7 October 2018 has been given the motto "Breastfeeding - basis for life". To mark the occasion, the National Breastfeeding Committee at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is emphasising the importance of breastfeeding for the mother and child and recommending that acceptance of breastfeeding in public be increased through education and information. Breastfeeding should be possible at all times without hindrance in both a professional environment as well as in daily life.

Breastfed infants take ill less often than non-breastfed infants; they also suffer less often from respiratory infections, diarrhoea and overweight in later life. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding their children, because they lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes and overweight. Thanks to the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin, breastfeeding mothers suffer less stress. They are also more mobile with their children, because breast milk is always available, while breastfeeding also promotes the emotional bond between mother and child.

A study commissioned by the BfR showed that for every tenth mother who discontinues breastfeeding prematurely, the negative attitude of the general public is one of the reasons. Although only six percent of the population reject it completely when a mother breastfeeds her baby in public, one in four of the people questioned are at least ambivalent towards breastfeeding in public. In restaurants and cafes in particular, there is a discrepancy between acceptance of breastfeeding and the breastfeeding behaviour of mothers. In the view of a large majority of the general public, breastfeeding in these places is only appropriate to a certain extent, but women cannot and will not fundamentally give up their right to breastfeed their children there. The National Breastfeeding Committee therefore advocates measures to increase acceptance of breastfeeding, especially in places of this kind.

Although drinking milk from the mother’s breast is an inborn ability of newborn babies, the mothers often need competent advice and support, especially at the beginning of breastfeeding. For this reason, the National Breastfeeding Committee at the BfR has published recommendations in seven languages which can be requested from the BfR free of charge. The breastfeeding recommendations contain practical tips as well as information on other organisations which can be contacted about breastfeeding problems in addition to midwives, breastfeeding advisers, gynaecologists and paediatricians:

About the National Breastfeeding Committee at the BfR

The National Breastfeeding Committee was founded in 1994 with the aim of promoting a new breastfeeding culture in the Federal Republic of Germany and helping to ensure that breastfeeding becomes the normal form of nutrition for infants. The Committee is composed of members of medical professional associations and organisations who are committed to the promotion of breastfeeding in Germany. More information on the work of the National Breastfeeding Committee has been published at the following website:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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