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Acceptable medical reasons for using breastmilk substitutes

WHO/UNICEF have updated their guidance on acceptable medical reasons for use of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) based on new scientific evidence.

This guidance details the small number of health conditions of the infant or the mother that may justify recommending that she does not breastfeed temporarily or permanently. These conditions, which concern very few mothers and their infants, are listed together with some health conditions of the mother that, although serious, are not medical reasons for using breast-milk substitutes.

The guidance emphasises the almost all mothers can breastfeed successfully and benefits both the mother and child. Whenever stopping breastfeeding is considered, the benefits of breastfeeding should be weighed against the risks posed by the presence of the specific conditions listed.

The guidance is available in English Portuguese and Spanish at: www.who.int/child_adolescent_health/documents/WHO_FCH_CAH_09.01/en/index.html

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Reference this page

Acceptable medical reasons for using breastmilk substitutes. Field Exchange 36, July 2009. p14. www.ennonline.net/fex/36/acceptable