Australia and the United Kingdom Say

Six Months Exclusive Breastfeeding,

Canada Still Lagging In The UK



In The UK


In May 2003, the United Kingdom passed a Resolution that encourages mothers to breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months of life. The revised policy aims to ensure that infants are supported nutritionally throughout the most critical stages of development and growth. This decision is an exciting outcome of the hard work and perseverance of groups in the United Kingdom who have been working towards this ruling (1).


In Australia


Australian breastfeeding advocates commended the UK's landmark decision, congratulating those involved in its ratification and expressing their desire to have a similar resolution passed in Australia. The National Health and Medical Research Council is in the process of suggesting comparable guidelines for infant and young child feeding in Australia, hoping to replace the existing guidelines for infant and young child breastfeeding for four months with the optimal six months of exclusive breastfeeding. The Council is sympathetic to the undeniable benefits of breastfeeding and their positive impact on infant and young child health (2).


Where is Canada?


    In light of these new and positive developments by our Commonwealth partners, one cannot help but wonder where Canada stands on the important WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Unlike the UK and Australia, the Canadian government is still not making headway towards implementing this critical policy.


    Canada's position remains mired in its policy recommendations of the 1998 Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants. Statement of the Joint Working Group:  Canadian Paediatric Society,Dieticians of Canada, and Health Canada. This document was controversial from the start, as two of its major  authors were also consultants of the infant formula and complementary foods industries. Both are featured in Nestlé's Goodstart publication "Nutrition Corner" column and contribute to Heinz's "In Touch" publication. This obvious conflict of interest gives industry direct access to Canada's infant feeding policies, preventing progress on the six months issue. Nestlé and Heinz continue in their promotion of complementary feeding before six months despite recommendations of the rigorous Cochrane literature review and the subsequent unanimous adoption of the recommended duration of exclusive breastfeeding for six months at the World Health Assembly.


    INFACT Canada is urging Health Canada to revise its policy statement and is looking for four major outcomes:


1)  broad-based participation from all sectors of those working in infant and young child nutrition;


2)  elimination of conflicts of interest;


3)  the inclusion of the International Code and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly;


4)  and the essential implementation of exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

If over 70 countries worldwide including the UK and Australia can update their policies, why can't we?


1. Baby Milk Action. Press Release. 12 May 2003. [back]

2. Ben Wyld and agencies. Better to breastfeed for longer, say experts. 14 May 2003. [back]


Countries with national policies for exclusive breastfeeding for six months


Africa: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome e Principe, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Americas: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Oceania: Australia, Kiribati, Micronesia, and Palau.

Asia: Cambodia, India, Iran, Hong Kong, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

Europe: Bosnia, France, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom.

Spring 2003 Newsletters Contents