World Breastfeeding Week: Poverty and Breastfeeding

Marking its entry in 1992, the World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated on the first week of August from 1–7 August. Thenceforth, it is widely celebrated all over the world to commemorate the importance of breastfeeding to the babies’ well-being and signify the need of nutritional health to both the mother and babies. Generally, the nutrients that is contained in the breastmilk defends the babies from diseases such as obesity, asthma and type-1 diabetes. As opposed to formula milk, breastmilk is evidently more efficient in allowing the baby to absorb and utilize nutrients.

Hence, it is crucial for mothers to be healthy to ensure a good supply of breastmilk is given to the baby. However, several challenges are faced by mothers around the world to provide breastmilk to their children especially refugees and poverty-stricken communities. The accessibility to breastmilk is limited to these community as the uncertainty of their income and safety is at stake. Predominantly, they live in poor conditions with scarce amount of basic needs which leads to malnutrition and traumatic stress. Consequently, the mother’s health deteriorates due to the living conditions as well as their children inheriting the disease or disorder through breastmilk. A study conducted in 2019 by Oxford reveals the increase of the C-reactive protein (a type of protein that is found in the blood plasma that rises due to inflammation) in children when the breastfeeding mother has malnutrition issues, therefore affecting the children’s growth.

World Breastfeeding Week: UNICEF and WHO call on the Government and employers to support breastfeeding mothers in Indonesia during COVID-19

Traumatic stress which reduces breastmilk supply among refugee mothers is a typical issue that needs to be addressed to avoid long term illness, growth stunting, and death. The insufficient supply of breastmilk primarily during the early stages of child development can degenerate the mental and physical capacity of a child.

Furthermore, mothers that are under stress also causes a significant rise in the amount of cortisol in breastmilk. The increase in cortisol impacts the children’s emotional development primarily targeting the areas that regulate emotion in the human brain known as amygdala. The researchers from Arizona University concluded that babies become more agitated due to the presence of high level of cortisols.

The combination of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and dire conditions mainly causes the decrease in production of breastmilk among refugee mothers. As a result, UNICEF organizes programs and campaigns to promote awareness, provide healthcare services and nutrition support, and advocating for better environments for nursing mothers.

DnG strives to improve the well-being and primary healthcare among refugee mothers in Malaysia to ensure a healthy supply of breastmilk is provided to their children. This avoids or reduces some common disorders among children.


  1. “The Hidden Obstacles of Breastfeeding for Refugee Mothers” —
  2. “World Breastfeeding Week 2022” —
  3. “Why Do We Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week” —

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