Author(s): Wilmoth TA, Elder JP
Breastfeeding and its impact on child survival in developing countries have been well documented. Governments are being urged to encourage breastfeeding through legislation and promotional campaigns. The success of promotional programs depends not only on the interventions themselves but on the acceptance and acquisition of the desired knowledge, skills and behaviors. During the past decade, a variety of strategies have been used in an attempt to promote breastfeeding. These efforts include: (1) modifying hospital policies; (2) using social supports; (3) providing incentives; (4) educating mothers and health workers; and (5) initiating legislation and political action to create policies aimed toward healthier infant feeding practices. Research regarding these promotional activities has been both qualitative and quantitative in nature, designed to provide answers concerning the relative success of different promotional approaches. To varying degrees, findings and conclusions of breastfeeding promotion research can enhance the design, implementation and sustainability of these projects. However, programs and research designs are poorly described in the literature, providing vague conclusions and little guidance for future program planning.