GENEVA, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- A group of United Nations (UN) experts on Tuesday issued a statement stressing that breastfeeding is a human rights issue for babies and mothers and should be protected and promoted for the benefit of both.
They also urged states to take urgent action to stop the "misleading, aggressive and inappropriate" marketing of breast milk substitutes in a multi-billion-dollar global industry.
Those who signed the statement include UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to health, Dainius Puras, and on the right to food, Hilal Elver, as well as the UN Working Group on discrimination against women, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
"These marketing practices often negatively affect the choices women make on how to feed their infants in the best way possible, and can impede both babies and mothers from enjoying the many health benefits of breastfeeding," the experts said.
"This is particularly harmful when companies are targeting untapped markets in developing countries because those in developed countries are already saturated," they noted.
According to the experts, the tools available to states to crack down on inappropriate marketing practices are not being used sufficiently, and too few states have adopted the necessary stringent, comprehensive and enforceable legal measures.
"We call on them to adopt such measures to protect babies and mothers from misleading marketing practices, and fully align with the recommendations contained in the international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions," they stressed.
Figures given by the experts in the statement showed that only one in three of the world's babies under six months old are exclusively breast-fed.