10 facts on breastfeeding

Updated August 2017

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival.

If breastfeeding were scaled up to near universal levels, about 820 000 child lives would be saved every year (1). Globally, only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.

WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. This fact file explores the many benefits of the practice, and how strong support to mothers can increase breastfeeding worldwide.


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(1) C. Victora, R. Bahl, A Barros, G.V.A Franca, S. Horton, J. Krasevec, S. Murch, M. J. Sankar, N. Walker, and N. C. Rollins. 2016. "Breastfeeding in the 21st Century: Epidemiology, Mechanisms and Lifelong Effect." The Lancet 387 (10017):475-490.