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UNICEF (originally called United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, but later shortened to United Nations Children's Fund) is an international charity organization mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate children's rights, to help children meet basic needs, and to enhance their potential. UNICEF is active in ensuring for the care of children and their families around the world, especially in the case of war, natural disaster, poverty, violence, disability, and exploitation.

UNICEF and breastfeeding:

UNICEF is widely quoted. The importance of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding is one of their important messages. The bottom line, from UNICEF "If every baby were exclusively breastfed from birth, an estimated 1.5 million lives would be saved each year. "

UNICEF's publication "Breastfeeding: Foundation for a healthy future" states "Virtually all children benefit from breastfeeding, regardless of where they live."

UNICEF, along with the WHO is working to promote breastfeeding through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFH), which requires that hospitals implement 10 specific steps to support breastfeeding. So far in the entire US only about 30 hospitals have received BFHI designation. The big stumbling block in the US seems to be the requirement that a hospital agree not to accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats in order to be certified as "baby - friendly". Most US hospitals are firmly pocketed by the formula industry and receive not only free supplies but also cash bonuses to promote bottle feeding. This is as absurd as hospitals accepting subsidies from cigarette manufacturers.

As part of their work BFHI publishes a bimonthly newsletter which is available (and archived) on the UNICEF website.

UNICEF and the WHO are also working to develop new international infant growth charts. Current growth charts reflect a population that was bottle fedand/or inadequately breastfed. Current research shows normal breastfed child grows differently than the bottle fed child. The new growth charts (ongoing research and not yet available) will help to assure that adequately breastfed infants will be the referenced norm against which all (breastfed and artificially fed) infants are measured, not vice versa.

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