The rationale for adopting current international breastfeeding guidelines in South Africa.Matern Child Nutr 2007; 3(4):271-80MC
Current international breastfeeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, followed by the appropriate and adequate introduction of complementary foods at 6 months, with continued breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond. This guideline is based on evidence to support exclusive and extended breastfeeding as the optimal method of feeding infants and young children. Not only do these breastfeeding practices meet the nutrition needs of infants and children for optimal growth and development, but they also offer a host of other health and socio-economic benefits at all levels of society. The poor breastfeeding rates and increase in infant and child morbidity and mortality in South Africa have led to increased prioritized attention towards the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding. In 2000, the National Department of Health formally adopted the international breastfeeding guidelines for exclusive and extended breastfeeding practices. Therefore, it remains a priority to implement these guidelines in all current and future breastfeeding programmes and interventions, including the South African paediatric food-based dietary guidelines.