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Food security in infants aged 0-6months

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 3 replies.

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Anonymous 3944

Ghana Health services

Normal user

20 Jul 2021, 16:52

Good afternoon all, 

Please what constitutes food security in children aged 0-6months and do we ensures food security among those non-breastfed aged group or with mothers with ill health?

Alessandro Iellamo

Emergency Nutrition Adviser

Technical expert

21 Jul 2021, 07:31

Thanks for this very important question.

Breastfeeding save lives, reduce the risks of mortality and morbidity, contributes to the economic development of a country, its environmentally friendly and evidence has proven that its all what a baby needs during the first six months of life...when complementary feeding starts 

please see:

1. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect (

2. Why invest, and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices? (

Breastfeeding, and exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life is what should be considered the very first food system....there is an important article see below that illustrate this concept,Jelliffe%20%26%20Jelliffe%2C%201978).

That highlights the reasons why breastfeeding is the first food system, is sustainable, equitable, environmentally friendly but requires system-wide protection and support and the society as a whole as a responsibility to ensure that women and protected and supported so they can breastfeed their infants;

But, you are right, there are instances where infants/young children are not breastfed, and since the endorsement of the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in 2002  by member states, there are clear criteria and standards to ensure safe and appropriate infant feeding practices.  The Global strategy recommends that all efforts are exerted to support the mother and the child to breastfeed, or be supported with re lactation, wet nursing or donor breastmilk milk as long as accepted and respectful of the context. Infant formula is a recognized option that we need to consider when everything else has failed.

The IYCF-E Operational Guidance 2017 does provide a detailed set of recommendations on what type of support and the approaches to take when a child is not breastfed

Action 5 of the OG-IFE, provides concrete recommendations on how we can protect and support women to breastfeed, and Action 6 provides standards and recommendations when artificial feeding is the only option.

Thanks and I hope this helps

Alessandro Iellamo

Emergency Nutrition Adviser

Technical expert

21 Jul 2021, 07:51

sorry this is the paper I wanted to share about: Breastfeeding as the first food system


Frances Mason Pasteur

Senior Nutrition Advisor

Normal user

11 Aug 2021, 15:28

Dear All, 

I hope that this paper may be of use in answering the question.

This was written to help country advocates working with their governments in preparation for the Food Systems Summit next month and for those  leading the action tracks in which breastfeeding is particularly relevant. 

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