About 75 percent of Sri Lankan mums were exclusively breastfeeding their babies during the first six months of life in 2007, while in 2000 the rate was 50 percent, a local English newspaper reported on Monday.
The Daily News quoted UNICEF officials as saying that breastfeeding leads to fewer infant deaths and healthier babies.
"In a developing country, a child who is breastfed is almost three times more likely to survive infancy than a child who is not breastfed," the newspaper quoted UNICEF's nutrition project officer Renuka Jayatissa as saying.
Although there has been progress in the developing world over the past 15 years, only 38 percent of infants under six months of age are breastfed, the newspaper said.
Government health initiatives, including support to Baby Friendly Hospitals, training, advocacy, capacity building, have seen increase of the island's rate of exclusive breastfeeding, the newspaper added.
The government is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week from Sept. 15 to 19, along with UNICEF, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the World Health Organization.
The aim of World Breastfeeding Week is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2008)