Breastfed is best for bub

THE Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has called on Australian governments to make 2005 the year to protect and support breastfeeding, as new research shows Australia is falling behind other countries.

"Many European countries have better exclusive breastfeeding rates that Australia," ABA president, Wendy Burge, said.

A recent European Commission study shows several countries in Europe have exclusive breastfeeding rates of 30-50 per cent at three months.

By contrast, Australian figures show that less than one in 10 mothers exclusively breastfeed to six months, as recommended by health authorities in Australia.

Breastfeeding helps prevent obesity and various chronic illness such as as diabetes in later life, as well as lowering risks of common childhood infections and reducing mothers' risk of breast cancer.

"An increasing number of countries and agencies, have recognised the importance of practical measures to protect and support breastfeeding, as well as just promoting the 'breast is best' message," Ms Burge said.

The United States and New Zealand have already issued such action plans.

"Here in Australia, (ABA) has provided a blueprint for action with the publication of our Breastfeeding Leadership Plan," Ms Burge said.

"This ... is the year Australian governments must commit to effective action if we are to move towards ... recommended nutrition standards for babies."

She said the alternative was a further decine in exclusive breastfeeding rates.

The Breastfeeding Leadership Plan is available on the ABA website, www.breast-

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