Human beings are mammals, characterized by milk-producing organs in the
female for nourishing the young. However, some mothers have abandoned the
natural way in favor of infant formula to feed their newborns.
It is difficult for China to meet the national target of 85 percent
breastfeeding by 2010, experts said.
"The country's breastfeeding rate is about 70 percent, with the rural rate
higher than that in the cities," Lai Jianqiang, a researcher with the National
Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, said.
In some big cities, the breastfeeding rate is less than 60 percent.
"China is taking further action to increase its breastfeeding rate," Lai told
China Daily yesterday in response to World Breastfeeding Week which ends today
The country has banned the promotion of breast milk substitutes in hospitals
since the launch of the Regulation of Human Milk Substitutes Distribution in
1995. The regulation also stipulates that doctors must promote the advantages of
The regulation is being amended. More detailed measures and new standards
will be introduced.
"The amendment will extend the exclusive breastfeeding period from the first
four months to the first six months after a baby is born, adopting the latest
scientific discoveries of WHO studies," Dai Yaohua, a senior researcher with the
Beijing-based Capital Institute of Paediatrics and a counselor with the World
Health Organization, said.
"But efforts to promote breastfeeding are lagging behind the promotion of
formula milk," Dai said.
"The society also needs to strengthen the caring and protection system for
mothers and encourage them to continue breastfeeding."
WHO and UNICEF have launched a Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child
Feeding, recommending that children be breastfed exclusively for the first six
months of life, and then continue to be breastfed with adequate complementary
food for up to two years or beyond.
However, Zhou Hua, 33, a mother of a 1-year-old child, quit breastfeeding and
switched to infant formula when her daughter was only one-month old.
"I was worrying about my job and wanted to get back to work earlier," Zhou
said. She is a hotel manager in Beijing.
"My daughter is healthy and is even a bit fatter than others of her age,
which has convinced me of the nutrition in formula milk," Zhou said.
However, fatter might not mean stronger, medical experts said.
"Breast milk is a necessary and ideal food for a baby because its nutrients
are most suitable for the baby's digestion and nourishment," Li Haimiao, a
doctor from Beijing Haidian Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital, said.
"For mothers, breastfeeding is beneficial to post-partum recuperation.
"Normally we let babies experience skin-to-skin contact with their mothers
and begin breastfeeding within the first hour of life, which is quite important
to the physical and mental health of both mother and baby," Li said.
Peng Qiang, 30, an engineer in Zhuozhou of Hebei Province, admitted that he
knows little about breastfeeding.
"It is women's thing, totally beyond my understanding, the recently married
But a caring husband and supportive family can really make a difference.
Zhang Jian, a father of a seven-year-old girl is proud of his wife who
continued to breastfeed for more than two years.
"I cooked nutritious meals, such as fish soup, for my wife every day to help
her continue breastfeeding," Zhang said. "As a result, my daughter is very
healthy and seldom falls ill."
(China Daily 08/07/2007 page3)