Intended for healthcare professionals


Six months of exclusive breast feeding: how good is the evidence?

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 13 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c5955

Cultural differences has an impact in six months exclusive breastfeeding

I fully support exclusive breastfeeding for six months in developing
countries as the authors suggested. Six months exclusive breastfeeding has
been associated with the reduction of colic diseases, allergies and
decreased rates of infections. This article highlights some important
health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, as well as challenging some of
the current views.

In my country, the issue of six months exclusive breastfeeding is faced
with certain cultural challenges which may add a new perspective to the

Young mothers in some African cultures may experience pressure from older
family members to ensure their babies are getting enough nutrition by
introducing solids early. It is believed that a crying baby is evidence of
a reduced maternal milk supply. An older family member will force the
breastfeeding mother to introduce solids early to their babies, as it
believed that this will soothe the baby and provide better nutrition. Some
mothers have minimum milk supply than other breastfeeding mothers which
can be frustrating as this may result in the baby not receiving enough
nutrition. An indication of this is a crying baby. Working mothers are
facing a challenge of compressing milk daily for their babies and if they
are not motivated about benefits of breast milk, the care giver or an
older member of the family at home would introduce solids early.



Competing interests: No competing interests

23 July 2011
Nonceba Mercy Vellem
University of Fort Hare