Canadian Paediatric Society

Canadian Paediatric Society

June 07, 2012 00:01 ET

Canada Lagging Behind Other Nations on Breastfeeding Promotion

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 7, 2012) - The Canadian Paediatric Society is urging provinces and territories to promote breastfeeding by developing strategies to implement the World Health Organization's Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI).

"There is strong research evidence that the BFI has an impact on supporting breastfeeding, but the number of Canadian hospitals and health care centres that are BFI designated is miniscule," said Dr. Sharon Unger, co-author of a new statement released today and a member of the CPS Nutrition and Gastroenterology Committee. "We want to see government take a role in facilitating BFI implementation."

The WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Initiative in 1991 to improve worldwide breastfeeding initiation and duration rates. The core of the BFI is the "Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding," which requires facilities to have a written breastfeeding policy, to inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding, to show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, and to give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.

To be accredited as baby-friendly, an institution needs to follow each of the ten steps for at least 80% of all of the women and babies it cares for. Over 20,000 maternity facilities and health centres worldwide have this designation. Only 12 hospitals and birthing centres and 25 community health facilities in Canada are accredited as baby-friendly. Most of the facilities are in Quebec, which has a provincial breastfeeding strategy that includes BFI implementation.

"Breastfeeding is an incredibly important public health initiative that provides advantages not only for babies but also for mothers, families and society," said Dr. Catherine Pound, co-author of the statement. "For a full-term baby, breast milk is the best source of nutrition and provides protection against life-threatening infections like meningitis, respiratory diseases, ear infections and in the long run provides for a better neurodevelopmental outcome. For preterm babies there are even more added benefits."

The CPS and Health Canada recommend exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years and beyond.

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

To access the full CPS position statement, contact

Contact Information

  • Andree Dion
    Media Relations Coordinator
    Canadian Paediatric Society
    613-526-9397, ext. 247

    On-site in London (June 5-8)