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Media Release: Exclusive Breastfeeding: The Gold Standard to Be Theme of Annual World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7

Schaumburg, IL (July, 2004) The 2004 World Breastfeeding Week theme, as announced by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is Exclusive Breastfeeding: the Gold Standard. La Leche League International (LLLI), as a founding member of WABA, wholeheartedly supports this theme.

Exclusive breastfeeding is the safe, sound, and sustainable way to feed an infant for the first six months of life. Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breastmilk and no other foods or drinks for the first six months.

Babies grow and develop best when exclusively breastfed for six months. Continued breastfeeding with complementary feeding after six months is also important to infant and toddler health. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages breastfeeding until at least a year with complementary foods after six months and thereafter as long as mutually desired. The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that breastfeeding should continue after six months with appropriate complementary foods up to two years or beyond.

Artificially fed and mixed-fed infants, i.e. those who are breast and formula fed, are sick more often with diarrhea, pneumonia and other infections. When they are older, artificially fed babies are more likely to be overweight, have more allergies, and lower scores on intelligence tests.

Unfortunately, exclusive breastfeeding is rare in many countries. The aim of this year’s theme, Exclusive Breastfeeding: the Gold Standard, is to help everyone to understand about exclusive breastfeeding, to believe in its benefits, and to find ways to support and encourage mothers to do it.

Featured in the WABA action folder is information about "The Golden Bow," a golden lapel pin. This lapel pin may be worn in support of exclusive and continued breastfeeding. To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and to support this WABA/UNICEF initiative, LLLI will be selling “The Golden Bow” lapel pin and the WABA action folder. [Web site note: The folder is now in stock and the pin will be available July 20 from our online catalogue]

Since 1956, LLLI has given mothers the information and support they need to exclusively breastfeed their babies. LLLI is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that offers mother-to-mother support in over sixty countries. For more information about breastfeeding, to find a local support group, or to purchase "The Golden Bow" visit the LLLI Web site at www.lalecheleague.org or call 1-800-LA LECHE.

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