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IT'S 6 MONTHS!
LA LECHE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL AT THE 54TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY,GENEVA, 14-22 MAY 2001

Gisele Laviolle LLLI representative to WHO and Anne Gaskell, Executive Director attended the 54th World Health Assembly.

The question of the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding took many turns during the hours before the official debate. The European Union met separately to determine their position. Most countries spoke favourably about the resolution that the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding is the first 6 months of life as a global public health recommendation.

The following statement was delivered on behalf of our organization;

54th WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY - PROVISIONAL AGENDA ITEM 13.1

Statement by Anne Gaskell, Executive Director, La Leche League International, a nongovernmental organization in official relations with WHO

Thank you, Mr Chairman for this opportunity to speak on behalf of La Leche League International, which is a grass-roots volunteer organization giving mother-to-mother information and support to pregnant and breastfeeding women. LLLI is present in 61 countries. Since it was founded in 1956, 36 000 LLL-trained leaders and peer counsellors have worked with mothers to improve breastfeeding practices, including exclusive breastfeeding until the middle of the first year of the child.

Because in LLLI, we are mothers who work directly with mothers, helping them to sustain breastfeeding in many countries and cultures, we are uniquely positioned to bring the voice of mothers to the decision-making tables of the world. It is through the direct involvement with breastfeeding mothers that LLLI speaks with authority on breastfeeding and mother-to-mother support.

We were delighted to read the results of the WHO expert consultation, which reviewed current scientific literature on the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding.

We have long believed that the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding is the middle of the first year and are pleased that this has been confirmed by the expert consultation. We know that parents can be made aware of the need and the capacity of the baby that leads to the introduction of adequate complementary food taken from the family diet.

Aware that less than 35% of infants worldwide are exclusively breastfed for four months, LLLI would like this Assembly to consider the following:

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