27 September 2023

Milk of kindness for breastfed infants

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The Department of Health is supporting World Breastfeeding Week this week (to 7 August) by reminding partners, carers, families, communities, workplaces and Governments that they all have a role to play in giving infants a healthy start in life.

The Department said the 2021 theme for the Week, which ends tomorrow (Saturday 7 August), is Protect Breastfeeding — a Shared Responsibility.

In a statement, the Department said it recognised breastfeeding was not always easy, but was one of the best ways to support the health of mother and infant.

“Any amount of breast milk benefits the infant,” it said.

“It protects infants against infection and some chronic illnesses and helps promote healthy brain, eyesight and speech development.

“There are also many benefits for breastfeeding mothers including reduced risks of ovarian and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

The Department said Australia’s Infant Feeding Guidelines recommended exclusive breastfeeding to around six months.

It said the guidelines also recommended continuing breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond, or for as long as the mother and child wanted.

The Department said it was putting into action the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond.

“The Strategy aims to improve support for breastfeeding so that more infants can be breastfed for longer,” it said.

The Department said currently, about 29 per cent of Australian babies were exclusively breastfed to around six months of age.

“With better structures in place, more supportive communities and spaces that promote and encourage breastfeeding, we can all help give infants their healthiest start,” it said.

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