Breastfeeding and Nutrition

Breastfeeding and Nutrition

Diarrhea is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under five, and malnourished children are more vulnerable to infection. Proper nutrition fortifies the immune system against infectious diseases like diarrhea and promotes long-term growth and development.

Breastfeeding provides ideal nourishment and helps develop a baby’s immune system. Nutrients in breast milk develop antibodies that fight diarrheal infections.  In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, only half of infants younger than two months are exclusively breastfed. 

As they grow older, malnourished children suffer further with each diarrheal episode. A relentless cycle of gut damage and repeat infections prevents nutrient absorption and blunts the immune system. Diarrhea contributes to chronic malnutrition, which can ultimately stunt children’s cognitive and physical growth.

Diarrhea and Malnutrition: A Relentless Loop Graphic
Breastfeeding Prevention graphic
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The best superfood that babies can have to defeat diarrhea

State of the Field Report

Optimal infant and young child feeding can break the cycle of diarrhea and malnutrition, and community education is essential. Impacts can grow when county policies pair nutrition with WASH solutions.