Taiwan News
Fewer women breastfeed exclusively, despite health agency efforts: HPA
‘BABY-FRIENDLY’:Just 177 medical facilities have been certified as ‘baby-friendly,’ meaning that they focus on teaching pregnant women the value of breastfeeding
Taipei Times
By Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter
Wed, Apr 01, 2015

Despite the government’s efforts to promote breastfeeding, the percentage of mothers who breastfeed exclusively has been declining over the past two years, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday.

“The rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life in Taiwan reached its peak in 2012 at 49.6 percent, far higher than the global average of 38 percent and only a small step away from the WHO’s 2025 goal of 50 percent,” HPA Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) told a news conference in Taipei.

However, Chiou added that the rate dropped by 3.8 percentage points to 45.8 percent last year, attributing the decrease to the failure of some medical institutions with high delivery rates to adopt “baby-friendly” measures, such as teaching pregnant women how to breastfeed.

The exclusive breastfeeding rates for babies born at baby-friendly hospitals are 68.9 percent, 63.4 percent, 56 percent and 46.9 percent in the first month, two months, four months and six months after birth respectively, Chiou said.

“By comparison, the rates are significantly lower among babies born at facilities without baby-friendly policies, at 64.4 percent, 58.4 percent, 50.5 percent, and 41.7 percent respectively,” Chiou said.

A recent survey by the agency also found a decline in the rate of early physical contact between mothers and their newborn infants, from 58.9 percent in 2012 to 38.7 percent last year.

In addition, just about 21.1 percent of new mothers stayed in the same room as their babies at hospitals last year, compared with 37.4 percent in 2012.

A further analysis of the data found that, at medical facilities without baby-friendly measures, the rates of early physical contact and room sharing last year stood at 4 percent and 1.6 percent respectively, Chiou said.

“Comparatively, at baby-friendly institutions, 35.3 percent of the mothers enjoyed early physical contact with their newborn babies and 19.6 percent stayed in the same room during the same period,” she said.

HPA Maternal and Child Health Division Director Chen Li-chuan (陳麗娟) said that just 177 hospitals in the nation have been certified as “baby-friendly.”

“Given that there were 386 medical facilities offering labor and delivery services in 2013, the administration’s promotion of a baby-friendly hospital certification program launched in 2001 still has a long way to go,” Chen said.
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