In March 2006, scientists from Ghana and the UK Karen Edmond, Charles Zandoh, Maria Quigley, Seeba Amenga-Etego, Seth Oqusi-Agyei, and Betty Kirkwood published their findings that early, consistent breastfeeding habits for mothers in Ghana resulted in better survival outcomes for their infants. The authors communicated those results in the paper “Delayed Breastfeeding Initiation Increases Risk of Neonatal Mortality,” or “Delayed Breastfeeding,” published in The American Academy of Pediatrics. “Delayed Breastfeeding” was one of the first studies to examine the connection between early, consistent breastfeeding habits and infant survival. The information detailed in “Delayed Breastfeeding” supported and helped promote the World Health Organization’s 2015 Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative, which revealed the risks associated with avoiding breastfeeding for both mothers and infants in countries around the world.

In 2016, physician researchers Agustin Conde-Agudelo and José Díaz-Rossello published “Kangaroo Mother Care to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality in Low Birthweight Infants,” in which they compared the effectiveness of Kangaroo Mother Care to that of traditional treatments for low birth weight newborns. Physicians began using Kangaroo Mother Care in the 1970s as a treatment for low birth weight infants. The treatment, which involves exclusive breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, was created to help mothers care for low birth weight infants in developing. In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that globally, one million infants died due to complications of low birth weight, and a majority of those deaths occurred in developing countries. In their article, the authors demonstrated that Kangaroo Mother Care is just as effective as conventional medical care.

Pierre Constant Budin worked in France to improve the lives of newborns and their mothers during the late nineteenth century. Budin stressed the importance of proper nutrition in infants and educated new mothers on breastfeeding and infant care. Budin established infant care facilities and created a nutritional check-up system for infants. Budin helped design early artificial nipples, breast pumps, and incubators for premature newborns. He also began the practice of consulting with new mothers after they gave birth, redefining the roles of obstetricians.

On 26 April 2014, Gravitas Ventures released the documentary The Milky Way, a film directed by Jon Fitzgerald that compares breastfeeding in the US with breastfeeding in European countries. The film was produced by Piece of My Heart Productions and Cause Pictures. In the film, producers Jennifer Davidson and Chantal Molnar travel to Berlin, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden, to observe how people perceive breastfeeding there, compared to in the US. Breastfeeding provides multiple benefits to both the infant and mother, including infants developing a healthy immune system and mothers recovering from birth at an increased rate. The film shows how women in the US are inhibited by limited maternity leave compared to women in European countries. The Milky Way provides viewers with information about breastfeeding in the US compared to other European countries and the impact that formula companies have on women and infants.

Physician researchers Edgar Rey Sanabria and Héctor Martínez-Gómez developed the Kangaroo Mother Program in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1979, as an alternative to conventional incubator treatment for low birth weight infants. As of 2018, low birth weight and its associated complications are the leading causes of infant death, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries where access to technology and skilled healthcare providers is limited. Kangaroo Mother Care is a simple and low cost method for treating low birth weight infants. Even though researchers developed Kangaroo Mother Care for infants born in hospitals with limited resources, they demonstrated that the method could be just as effective as conventional treatments. Kangaroo Mother Care changed the standard of care for low birth weight infants, making life-saving medical treatments accessible to thousands of infants in developing and undeveloped countries.

Dana Louise Raphael was an anthropologist and breastfeeding advocate in the US during the twentieth century. After she was unable to breastfeed her own infant, Raphael began to research why breastfeeding was more common in other cultures than in the US. As part of that research, Raphael cofounded the Human Lactation Center, where she studied the breastfeeding habits of mothers around the world. Through that research, she coordinated with formula manufacturers to educate women on the benefits of breastfeeding and formula supplementation to reduce infant mortality in developing nations. In addition, Raphael was the first person to use the word doula to describe a childbirth support companion for laboring women. Raphael was an advocate for the acceptance of breastfeeding around the world, and asserted the importance of doula support for new mothers in the form of breastfeeding education.

Subscribe to Breastfeeding