Press Release
April 24, 2006

Breastfeeding among Filipino mothers decliningCayetano

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has expressed concern over the declining rate of breastfeeding in the country today, even as she pressed for the intensification of education and information campaigns nationwide on the advantages of breastfeeding for mothers and their babies.

Citing latest available data from the Department of Health (DoH), the senator said the duration of exclusive breastfeeding among Filipino mothers has fallen from an average of 42 days in 1998 to only 24 days in 2003which she said falls way below international standards.

"Both the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund recommend six months of exclusive breastfeeding to ensure optimal infant development," pointed out Cayetano, chair of the senate committee on health and demography. "(But) we are currently nowhere near that standard."

She noted that the average duration of exclusive breastfeeding rated lowest in the National Capital Region (NCR) at only 15 days and in Central Visayas (Region VII) at 18 days.

On the other hand, Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) registered the highest rate of exclusive breastfeeding at 3.2 months or around 96 days, and Socsargen (Region XII) at 2.1 months or 63 days.

Studies prove that breast milk provides perfect infant nutrition while bottle-fed infants are more prone to diarrhea and respiratory diseases. Despite this, more mothers choose to give infant formula to their newborn. "This just shows that Filipino mothers generally lack information on the benefits of breastfeeding," she lamented.

She said most mothers are not provided with a community support system for long-term breastfeeding, forcing many to resort to infant formula once they are discharged from the hospital after giving birth.

This problem may soon be addressed by a proposed measure in the senate. Cayetano is set to sponsor Senate Bill 1767, which seeks to establish lactation stations in the workplace where nursing female employees would be able to express breastmilk for their babies.

"The current situation calls for measures that would provide means for working mothers to sustain breastfeeding even when they are at work. This bill intends to create a mother support system at the barangay level and the work place."

"Choosing to return to the time-honored tradition and nurturing value of breastfeeding will save lives and strengthen not only the health of our children, but also of our working mothers," she concluded.

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