World Breastfeeding Week: History, Theme, and Significance

OV Digital Desk

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World Breastfeeding Week raises awareness about breastfeeding. It is observed between 1-7 August.   It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration by WHO and UNICEF in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

WBW 2022 will focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding across various levels of society.  Breastfeeding is key to sustainable development strategies post-pandemic, as it improves nutrition, ensures food security, and reduces inequalities between and within countries.

Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for two years or more prevents all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity. Breastfeeding also acts as babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.

Theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2022

World Breastfeeding Week raises awareness about breastfeeding. It is observed between 1-7 August. The theme is aligned with the thematic area 1 of the WBW-SDG 2030 campaign which highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and reduction of inequalities.

The theme World Breastfeeding Week 2021 was “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”

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Quick Facts about Breastfeeding

Here are quick facts about the breastfeeding and its impact on the mother and children.

  • Breastfeeding burns between 500-600 calories a day. That means some moms might end up losing weight without any additional exercise.
  • Breast milk is a living substance that contains live cells, including stem cells, which go on to become other body cell types like brain, heart, kidney, or bone tissue.
  • Breast milk also contains antibodies and live white blood cells that help your baby fight against infection.
  • Colostrum contains special proteins that coat your baby’s intestinal tract to protect from harmful bacteria right from the start.
  • Breastfeeding reduces mortality in newborns and infants and provides numerous lifelong health and brain development advantages to the child.
  • The amount of breast milk you are able to produce has nothing to do with your breast size.
  • Breast milk is not always white. It can be blue, green, yellow, pink, or orange depending on what you eat or drink. Don’t worry, it’s OK for baby.
  • Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of common childhood illnesses, including ear infections, respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, and Necrotizing Enterocolitis.

History of World Breastfeeding Week

World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) established breastfeeding week in 1990 to promote and support breastfeeding. The World Association of Breastfeeding Action was formed in 1991 to implement the goals of UNICEF and WHO.

In 1992, a whole week was dedicated to the promotion of this campaign. There were around 70 countries that initiated the celebration of World Book Week in the past, but today there are 170 countries participating in observation.

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