International Breastfeeding Initiatives and their Relevance to the Current State of Breastfeeding in the United States


  • Marsha Walker RN, IBCLC

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    • Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, is the executive director of the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy: Research, Education, and Legal Branch (NABA REAL) in Weston, MA. She serves on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition and Baby-Friendly USA.

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Exclusive breastfeeding is becoming an endangered practice. Breastfeeding has fallen from the foundation of public health to something that is nice but not necessary in the minds of many consumers and health care professionals. Numerous international initiatives have been created to improve the initiation, duration, and exclusivity of breastfeeding throughout the world. These include the International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes, the Innocenti Declaration, and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. In the United States, the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (NABA), the US Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), and Baby-Friendly USA have played important roles in improving breastfeeding. We begin with a brief history of these initiatives and organizations and move on to discuss some of the progress and programs that can help return breastfeeding to its rightful place as the initial and most basic act of health protection.