Tuesday 1 October 2013

Breastfeeding and child rights in Luxembourg

Luxembourg presented its consolidated 3rd and 4th periodic report on the situation of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the country. The combined 5th to 6th periodic report is expected by October 2019.
IBFAN submitted an alternative report on the situation of infant and young child feeding in Luxembourg. The report highlights the fact that breastfeeding rates are insufficient. Only 6% of infants are exclusively breastfeeding during the first 6 months; this rate has indeed decreased since 2001. In 2005, the government of Luxembourg assured it will establish a national plan for promoting and protecting breastfeeding. Until now two plans have been adopted, one between 2006 and 2010 and the other between 2011 and 2015. Unfortunately, the action plan has not been backed with sufficient budget, leading to restricted implementation. More and more women stop breastfeeding their children before they reach 6 months. The report also underlines the fact that only half of the four maternity hospitals are baby-friendly, while there is a lack of information to mothers about breastfeeding from midwives and breastfeeding counselors. The report states that the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and resolutions is weak as it conforms to the EU Directive 2006/141/EC and not to the WHO Code. Concerning maternity protection at work, breastfeeding breaks are paid by the employer and women need to present a medical certificate for the whole duration of breastfeeding. This may lead certain women to feel pressured not to ask for the break or not taking them for the entire breastfeeding period, which in turn could explain the decreasing rate of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months.
Discussion on infant and young child feeding
During the dialogue with the government delegation, CRC Committee has raised questions on breastfeeding. The Committee members pointed to the fact that exclusive breastfeeding is practiced by always fewer women. They asked whether health professionals receive training on breastfeeding, and on the impact of cesarean section on breastfeeding rates. The Committee members asked whether promotion of breastmilk substitutes is authorized in hospitals. They highlighted the fact that the promotion of infant formula in hospitals, and lack of regulation of their marketing together with a lack of support to understand the importance of exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, can undermine the successful breastfeeding by mothers, and recommended to Luxembourg to have strong regulations on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes coupled with a good monitoring of the Code and resolutions, as well as adequate maternity protection for working women so that mothers are really supported to breastfeed. The Committee also addressed the need to turn all four hospitals into baby-friendly.

The Luxembourg delegation reported that concerning the decreasing rate of exclusive breastfeeding, it is mainly women of low social and economical background who stop more and more breastfeeding their children after 6 months. The government of Luxembourg highlighted the fact that it is currently working in collaboration with international partners on the project to change the image of breastfeeding in order to convince mothers to continue breastfeeding their child until 6 months.
Concerning the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, the delegation of Luxembourg said that one of the objectives of the national programme is to put BFHI in the national criteria for maternity units.

Concluding Observations

Although issue related to breastfeeding such as the BFHI, the marketing breastmilk substitutes, adequate budgeting of the national action plan and maternity protection were tackled during the Committee, we regret to see that no recommendations on this issue in the Concluding Observations were given to Luxembourg. 
For more information on breastfeeding in Luxembourg please see http://www.liewensufank.lu/fr

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