Guidance Note: Infant and young child feeding in the first three days after a nuclear power plant accident
Author: IFE Core Group Sub-Working Group on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) in the context of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats
Resource type: Other
There is increasing concern about nuclear accidents and emergencies recently as a result of disruption to a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
While there is clear guidance on what to do in case of a nuclear emergency for the general population, there has been a lack of clear comprehensive guidance on infant and young child feeding for caregivers and health workers providing feeding support. Guidance has been contradictory or often focused on the risk of exposure to radioactive materials without fully balancing the risks of morbidity and mortality associated with not breastfeeding. The conflict in Ukraine adds additional complexity as resources needed to use breastmilk substitutes safely could be unavailable or difficult to obtain. After the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan in 2011, fear of transmitting radioactive materials to infants through breastmilk led to many mothers switching from breastfeeding to formula feeding despite being advised by health authorities to continue breastfeeding (Ishii et al, 2016). Nuclear accidents such as Fukushima demonstrate how critically important it is to provide clear and accurate information, reassurance and guidance to ensure appropriate infant and young child feeding in a nuclear emergency and especially to ensure that breastfeeding is not unnecessarily interrupted.
The IFE Core Group consists of different expert organisational bodies and individuals from across the globe who come together regularly to address policy, guidance, training and other gaps regarding infant and young child feeding in emergencies. A guidance note, "Infant and young child feeding in the first three days after a nuclear power plant accident” has been finalised in the context of the Ukraine conflict, for healthcare workers and emergency planners on the ground to optimally support infants and young children. This guidance should be used in conjunction with existing guidance for the general public, healthcare workers and policy makers. It does not cover infant and young child feeding in the context of nuclear warfare. Recommendations are based on the best available evidence with full consideration of the risks associated with radiation exposure and the risks of interrupting breastfeeding. This guidance reflects our collective knowledge and draws on expertise from the fields of radiation, nuclear emergency, infant and young child feeding in emergencies, and communication, among other expertise. We gratefully acknowledge the timely feedback and input from various experts at WHO, CDC & IAEA. We acknowledge that this guidance will evolve over time as more information becomes available and we welcome suggestions for improvement to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please download the new guidance here.
IFE Core Group Sub-Working Group on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) in the context of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.
Maryse Arendt IBCLC BSEd, Brooke Bauer, MPH, Eilise Brennan, Msc, Jodine Chase, Kirrily De Polnay, MBBS, Veronica Garea, PhD IBCLC, Karleen Gribble, BRurSc PhD, Hiroko Hongo, MSW PhD, Sharon Leslie, PT DPT MPH, Mija Ververs, MMed MPH RD, Nicki Connell MBE. We gratefully acknowledge the technical guidance received from members of the IFE Core Group Expert Peer Review Group.
We were able to undertake this work thanks to the generous support of UNICEF and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland. The ideas, opinions and comments included here are entirely the responsibility of the document’s authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the policies of the donors.
Reference this page
IFE Core Group Sub-Working Group on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) in the context of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats (2022). Guidance Note: Infant and young child feeding in the first three days after a nuclear power plant accident. www.ennonline.net/ifenuclearguidance