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World Breastfeeding Week

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Minister for Health


1 August 2012


The Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, today marked World Breastfeeding Week by encouraging Australian women to consider the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding their babies for the first six months of life.

The 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey confirmed there is a high level of breastfeeding initiation (96 per cent), but a steady decline in breastfeeding rates with each month of age.

While 60 per cent of Australian infants receive some breast milk at six months of age, only 15 per cent are exclusively breastfed to around six months, and 42 per cent receive breast milk between 7-12 months.

“Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need and we will continue to promote the value of breastfeeding and support mums to improve our breastfeeding rates,” Ms Plibersek said.

The NHMRC dietary guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until six months of age, with the introduction of solid foods at around six months and continued breastfeeding until the age of 12 months - and beyond, if both mother and infant wish.

World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated from 1 to 7 August to highlight the important contribution breastfeeding makes to improving the health of babies around the world.

The Australian Government supports mothers through the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 and other initiatives such as the national Paid Parental Leave scheme, Infant Feeding Guidelines for Health Workers, and through Get Up and Grow early childhood guidance for child care settings.

More than 300,000 callers have sought practical support and information from Australia’s national toll-free breastfeeding helpline since it began as part of a $2.5 million election commitment in October 2008.

Australian Government funding helped to establish and run the 24-hour service. The funding also provides education and training to the volunteer counsellors to give advice to new mums when they most need it.

Ms Plibersek said, “Last financial year the helpline received more than 84,000 calls with an average duration of 12 minutes. The Government has agreed to continue funding for the Australian Breastfeeding Association to provide this important service for a further three years to June 2015.

“As a mother of three children who were all breastfed for the first year of life I know the benefits of breastfeeding, for babies and mothers,” said Ms Plibersek.

For free, confidential breastfeeding advice and support, 24-hours a day, call 1800 MUM 2 MUM (1800 686 268, toll-free from landlines in Australia).

Further information is available from

For more information, please contact the Minister’s office on 02 6277 7220