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Breastfeeding making major strides in Taiwan

2012/08/07 12:35:29

Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) Taiwan's full breastfeeding rate has risen dramatically over the past two decades, in part because of aggressive government support and intervention, but more still needs to be done, a health official said Tuesday.

The full breastfeeding rate rose from 5.4 percent in 1989 to 61.8 percent in 2011, according to Department of Health statistics released Tuesday.

"Today, more than 60 percent of mothers rely exclusively on breastfeeding from the baby's birth to one month of age," said Chiou Shu-ti, director-general of the department's Bureau of Health Promotion.

The rate has risen more than 11-fold over the past two decades because of the government's intervention and the establishment of breastfeeding rooms, Chiou said at a press conference held to mark the annual World Breastfeeding Week.

But Chiou also noted that the rate declines significantly as the baby gets older, dropping to 50.9 percent at two months, 39.7 percent at four months and 24.2 percent at six months.

The high drop-off in the breastfeeding rate is due to several reasons, such as the popularity of milk formulas, the increase in the number of working mothers and an unsupportive environment, according to a statement released by the bureau.

"We still have much room for improvement," Chiou acknowledged.

The government will push harder to create breastfeeding-friendly workplace accreditation and launch a breastfeeding location application for smartphone users, she announced.

The app, to be ready in October, will help mothers identify nearby locations where they can breastfeed their child.

(By Nancy Liu)