As a result of efforts by Turkey’s Health Ministry to promote breastfeeding, the duration for nursing in the country has risen to 17 months.

According to the data compiled by Anadolu Agency, the Health Ministry found that 96.5% of all children born in Turkey consume breast milk.

The research by the ministry notes that inadequate and unbalanced nutrition negatively affects physical, social and mental development of babies and children, and thus the economic and cultural development of society.

Studies conducted on breast milk over the last 30 years revealed that breast milk is a unique source of nutrition. For this reason, it is once again gaining popularity among mothers.

As a result of the successful research, the number of babies nursed exclusively with breast milk has increased in Turkey. As 96.5% of all children born in Turkey were exclusively fed with breast milk, the average duration of breastfeeding has increased to 17 months.

Each year on Aug. 1-7, Turkey commemorates World Breastfeeding Week to promote awareness on nursing children. In efforts to emphasize the importance of the matter and build public awareness in Turkey, a variety of activities and trainings are carried out during the week.

According to UNICEF, the death rate among children who are not breastfed are four to six times higher than those who are. Also, the WHO states that if the rates of breastfeeding women are higher, then more than 800,000 babies could be saved annually.

Babies should be fed only breast milk — without even water — for their first six months and continue breastfeeding until the age of at least two and beyond, even if they start to consume solid foods after six months.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan

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