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Preventing Malnutrition in All its Forms #WBW2018

International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) is excited to join World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and other organizations and individuals the world over in celebrating #WBW2018 1-7 August . The theme of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2018 is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life. Lactation Matters will feature blog posts and resources throughout the week to help you make the most of this important week.

It has long been recognized that malnutrition with underweight and stunting is common in low-income countries. In addition to this problem, overweight and associated non-communicable diseases are actually a larger contributor to the burden of disease in low-income compared to high-income countries. Lack of breastfeeding can be linked to both underweight and overweight in children. This double burden of malnutrition has major consequences on short- and long-term health.

Optimal breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms with positive lifelong effects on both children and mothers.

Child malnutrition, especially wasting, often results from artificial feeding in low-income settings. Wasting may be prevented indirectly, for example by preventing severe diarrhea. In addition to breastfeeding, many factors affect the optimal growth and development of children, including the introduction, amount, and frequency of complementary feeding. The risk of the other form of malnutrition, overweight and obesity, increases the more a child is artificially fed, and this is becoming more common in all settings.

Breastfeeding also has implications for maternal nutrition. The assumption that mothers will become malnourished and lose weight due to breastfeeding does not appear to be valid. Good maternal nutrition together with optimal birth spacing and access to contraceptives are the main factors for preventing malnutrition. Exclusive breastfeeding also helps mothers return to a healthy pre-pregnancy weight and possibly lowers the risk of her developing diabetes.

For the most up-to-date information about WBW 2018 and to download promotional materials, please visit the World Breastfeeding Week website by clicking here.


1. Child malnutrition. (n.d.). Retrieved from
2. Akst, J. (2015). Breast Milk and Obesity: A study links components of a mother’s milk to her infant’s growth. Retrieved from
3. Sankar, M. J. et al. (2015). Optimal breastfeeding practices and infant and child mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatrica, 104, 3-13
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