With World Breastfeeding Week starting today, the Health Promotion Administration yesterday said a survey it conducted showed the nation’s breastfeeding rate in the first six months of a baby’s life reached 45.5 percent, adding that there is still room for improvement in creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
According to the agency’s statistics collected last year, Taiwan’s breastfeeding rate surpassed the world average rate of 38 percent and is getting closer to the WHO’s global target of increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50 percent by 2025.
The survey showed that 65.3 percent of breastfeeding mothers are satisfied with the general breastfeeding environment and 78.1 percent consider their workplace supportive of breastfeeding or pumping.
Administration Director Wang Ying-wei (王英偉) said the survey also showed that 57.1 percent of mothers stopped breastfeeding because they did not have enough breast milk, while 21.9 percent said they had difficulty breastfeeding or pumping at their workplace.
The survey showed that some people are not satisfied with the breastfeeding environment, so there is still room for improvement, the agency said.
Breastfeeding is a natural and low-cost method of feeding infants and is good for their health, it said, adding that the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action also said that breast milk is a nutritious and safer food for infants, adding that breastfeeding is friendlier to the ecosystem than formula feeding.
It recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and introducing complementary foods with breastfeeding until the baby is two years old or older.
Administration official Chen Miao-hsin (陳妙心) said some studies have found that benefits of breastfeeding for infants include a reduced risk of developing ear infections, digestive tract and respiratory diseases, as well as diabetes or allergies.
The administration said women should give birth at hospitals that have a “baby-friendly hospital” certification — of which there are 182 in the nation — so that they are allowed to have direct skin contact with their newborn within 30 minutes of giving birth and to stay in the same room as their baby for at least 24 hours, adding that healthcare practitioners can also instruct new mothers how to breastfeed.
Wang said collective participation is needed to raise a baby, adding that in addition to the help of family members, society should support a breastfeeding and baby-friendly environment.
Agencies provide various resources to help new parents, Wang said, adding that a toll-free hotline (0800-870-870) and a Web site (http://mammy.hpa.gov.tw) is available for pregnant women to ask questions or find information about pregnancy.
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