Taipei, May 5 (CNA) The mayors of Taichung and Taipei encouraged mothers Saturday to breastfeed in public at a promotional event organized by the Department of Health's Bureau of Health Promotion.
Taipei Mayor Hau Long-bing said breastfeeding not only can help boost children's immune systems but is also good for the health of the mother. The city currently has 700 public breastfeeding spaces and hopes to build an even friendlier environment for nursing mothers, said Hau.
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu also made similar comments at an event in his central city, saying that "everyone knows" the benefits of breastfeeding for children and that the city government will create an environment conducive to breastfeeding.
Promotional events organized by the bureau took place in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung, as well as in Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan.
According to a survey conducted by the bureau in 2011 of 12,455 women, the number of mothers breastfeeding in the first month following birth was 61.8 percent, followed by 50.9 percent in the second month and 39.7 percent after four months. The figures were on average 2 to 3 percent higher than a similar survey conducted in 2010.
In addition, a telephone survey of 3,436 people conducted by the bureau in that year showed that the number of mothers who had experience of breastfeeding in public was 52 percent.
The bureau attributed the surge in popularity of breastfeeding to the Legislative Yuan's approval of the Act Governing Breastfeeding in Public Places in November 2010, as well as government promotions.
However, rising living costs might also be a reason why many mothers are turning to breastfeeding, which is deemed more economical, the bureau said.
More mothers have been inquiring about how to breastfeed their children amidst rising fuel and electricity prices, said Kuan Hsiang-pin, director of Chen Ching Hospital's Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
(By Hao Hsueh-chin and C.J. Lin)