Factors Affecting Breastfeeding Practices

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Health professionals describe breastfeeding as one of the most effective public health strategies for improving infant and child survival, improving maternal morbidity, regulating health care costs, and preserving natural resources (Office on women’s health, 2000). The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) refers to breast milk as "the baby's first immunization" that lowers the risk of contracting various infectious diseases and chronic illnesses (UNICEF, 2002). Despite the widespread information on the benefits associated with human lactation, low adherence to established breastfeeding guidelines continues to be evident among societies to become a “catalyst” for many childhood diseases (Henri, 2010). Mothers’ ability to decide to breast feed is not just a matter of “informed choice”; rather it is constrained by barriers at different levels (Kim, 1988). In this essay, we will argue that the globalization of formula feeding, the promotion of bottle feeding through media, health systems and policies, societal pressures and health problems all serve as physical and social factors that reduce breastfeeding practices worldwide.

To begin with, the global spreading of the phenomenon of formula feeding, greatly promulgated by the interests of commercial industries has widely contributed to the decrease rates of breastfeeding (Dyson, 2006). Formula feeding has become a standard on which monitoring growth is based, where there is a very noticeable shift among cultures to regimented feeding patterns which has made this type of feeding’s load on the society even greater. As a consequence of globalization, the shift in labor opportunities, where more work vacancies for women are being created, overlapping with the fact that facilities specializing in child care and possibly feeding are missing has made formula feeding an even more tempting solution in the midst of the rapidly emerging busy lifestyle (Dyson, 2006). Perez-Escamilla et al.(1995) found that the major barrier...
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