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Breastfeeding practices and policies in WHO European Region Member States

  • Ayse Tulay Bagci Bosi (a1), Kamilla Gehrt Eriksen (a2), Tanja Sobko (a3), Trudy MA Wijnhoven (a4) and João Breda (a4)...

Abstract

Objective

To provide an update on current practices and policy development status concerning breastfeeding in the WHO European Region.

Design

National surveys and studies conducted by national health institutions were prioritized. Sub-national data were included where no national data or studies existed. Information on national breastfeeding policies was collected mainly from the WHO Seventh Meeting of Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Coordinators and European Union projects. Owing to the different data sources and methods, any comparisons between countries must be made with caution.

Setting

WHO European Member States.

Results

Data from fifty-three WHO European Member States were investigated; however, a large proportion had not reported any data. Rates of early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding to 1 year all varied considerably within the WHO European Region. Exclusive breastfeeding rates declined considerably after 4 months, and were low in infants under 6 months and at 6 months of age. The majority of the countries with existing data reported having a national infant and young child feeding policy and the establishment of a national committee on breastfeeding or infant and young child feeding. The majority of the countries with existing data reported having baby-friendly hospitals, although the proportion of baby-friendly hospitals to the total number of national hospitals with maternity units was low in most countries.

Conclusions

Breastfeeding practices within the WHO European Region, especially exclusive breastfeeding rates, are far from complying with the WHO recommendations. There are marked differences between countries in breastfeeding practices, infant and young child feeding policy adoption and proportion of baby-friendly hospitals.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email kamilla.eriksen@mrc-hnr.cam.ac.uk

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Keywords

Breastfeeding practices and policies in WHO European Region Member States

  • Ayse Tulay Bagci Bosi (a1), Kamilla Gehrt Eriksen (a2), Tanja Sobko (a3), Trudy MA Wijnhoven (a4) and João Breda (a4)...

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