Review of effective strategies to promote breastfeeding

Julie Smith, Adriano Cattaneo, Alessandro Iellamo, Sara Javanparast, Marjorie ATCHAN, Karleen Gribble, Ben Hartmann, Libby Salmon, Susan Taiwa, Naomi Hull, Maria Linkson, Miranda Blake, Megan Elliott-Rudder

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


Evidence shows that babies who are not breastfed, and mothers who don't breastfeed, are at an increased chance of many health risks in both the short and long term. The global public health recommendation is that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants and young children should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to 2 years of age or beyond (World Health Organization/UNICEF (WHO/UNICEF) 2003).
Breastfeeding is a biocultural behaviour that is influenced in complex ways by the social and economic context as well as by opportunities and barriers to its practice in specific settings, and by social or other characteristics of individuals which multiply risks of premature cessation of optimal breastfeeding. Despite the centrality of breastfeeding practices to optimal feeding in the first two years of life, in Australia exclusive breastfeeding decreases rapidly over the initial weeks and months. Although most (96%) of children are breastfed at least initially (4), breastfeeding practices (exclusivity and duration) have not significantly improved in Australia since the 1990s (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011).
The previous Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 was a recommendation from a 2007 Senate inquiry into the health benefits of breastfeeding. At the end of 2015, the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) requested that the Department of Health develop a high level enduring breastfeeding strategy. During consultations by the Department, stakeholders identified key strategies for the enduring Breastfeeding Strategy. The purpose of this review is to provide evidence that indicates the effectiveness of key strategies identified for the enduring Breastfeeding Strategy. The main audience for this review will be the Preventive Policy Section of the Department of Health and their associated stakeholder groups, including the Breastfeeding Expert Reference Group and the Breastfeeding Jurisdictional Officers Group.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Sax Institute
Commissioning bodyAustralian National University
Number of pages204
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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