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Legarda Renews Call to Strengthen Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign

August 6, 2015

As the world celebrates World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated the importance of breastfeeding and the need to strengthen policies to promote breastfeeding as a way of reducing child mortality rates.

Legarda, author of Senate Bill No. 671 or the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, stressed that breastmilk helps children survive throughout the most critical part of infancy, enabling them to withstand infections as they grow up, providing critical nutrients for the early development of their brains and bodies.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition is associated with over 45% of deaths in children under the age of five. We can reduce this number with exclusive breastfeeding of infants especially in the first six months of life,” she noted.

Breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Research has also revealed that breastfeeding provides health benefits later in life. Most adults who were breastfed as babies have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, are less likely to become overweight and obese, and are less prone to type-2 diabetes.

In contrast, the use of formula can lead to some health hazards, because it lacks the antibodies found in breastmilk. Also, many families do not have access to safe water, therefore, children are at greater risk of acquiring water-borne diseases when powdered milk is mixed with unsafe water.

“The benefits of breastmilk over formula have been well documented, so we want to raise awareness to ensure that the wider community appreciates the advantages of breastfeeding. Promotions through lectures, seminars and advertisements will reinforce this important message,” the Senator said.

To achieve this goal, Legarda said the government should take the lead by making breastfeeding a policy priority in national development plans, increasing resources for awareness campaign to promote the full benefits of breastfeeding.

“A serious campaign on the promotion of breastfeeding should be implemented so that everyone may well be aware that breastmilk not only satisfies the hunger of infants and toddlers, but also ensures better health and improved development of both mothers and their children,” Legarda concluded.

Studies have also revealed that breastfeeding brings mothers several health benefits, such as reduced risks of acquiring breast and ovarian cancer, faster restoration of pre-pregnancy weight, and less probability of being obese.