You may have seen that 8 November is Guinness World Records Day. It is a promotional event for the famous book, encouraging people to have a go at breaking a record. It reminded me to check what happened with the mass breastfeeding attempt that took place at the end of World Breastfeeding Week on 8 August. See:
None of the breastfeeding records appear in the search engine on the Guinness site. But they have a text service. Simply text GWR and your question to a number and you receive a reply a few minutes later. There is a charge for this. See:
So it seems the figures for the global event are still being scrutinised, but you will be sent provisional figures. The event involved mothers gathering with scrutineers to breastfeed at 10:00, their local time. There were 14 countries involved, with women at 325 sites. The provisional figure is over 10,000.
The organisers said the intention when full figures are available is for each country to try to beat its number for the previous year.
Of course, with 130 million babies born every year, the number being breastfed at any one time will be far greater than those involved in the record attempt. In fact, there are likely to be millions of babies being breastfed right now. An amazing free resource, providing all the nutrition needed, tailored to the child and protecting against infection. Breastfeeding saves many lives, but could save many more.
According to UNICEF: "Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.5 million children a year."
See the Your Questions Answered section of our website.
A 2003 study in the Lancet examined the question “How many child deaths can we prevent this year?” and concluded that promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding is potentially a more effective health intervention than provision of save water, sanitation and vaccination. Improved breastfeeding rates could prevent 13% of under-5 deaths in the 42 countries where most occur, amounting to 1.3 million. Appropriate introduction of complementary foods could prevent 6% of deaths.
Reducing death rates requires a range of approaches. Protecting breastfeeding is one of them.
Baby food company marketing tactics, ranging from idealizing claims about the benefits of formula, to bribing of health workers to promote their products, to targeting parents directly put profits before the interests of babies and families and contribute to the unnecessary death and suffering of babies around the world. Infant formula is a legitimate product - follow-on formula has been described as 'not necessary' by the World Health Assembly - but it must be marketed appropriately.
The industry attack on breastfeeding (and denial of necessary information to those who use formula) is why the World Health Assembly introduced marketing requirements, why we and our partners monitor companies and hold them to account and why campaigners have to find imaginative ways to promote and celebrate breastfeeding.