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International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes: Frequently asked questions (updated version 2008)


World Health Organization (WHO)

Subject Keywords: Breast-milk substitutes
Topic: Obesity
Type: Report
Region: International (other)

Many people who have heard about the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes have expressed interest in knowing more about it. The purpose of this document is to provide easy-to-read detailed information on specific questions related to the Code. It is indented for policy makers and others concerned with the Code, as well as the general public.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF have for many years emphasized the importance of maintaining the practice of breastfeeding, and of reviving the practice where it is in decline, as a way to improve the health and nutrition of infants and young children. A variety of factors influence the prevalence and duration of breastfeeding. The 27th World Health Assembly in 1974 noted the general decline in breastfeeding related to different factors including the production of manufactured breast-milk substitutes and urged Member countries to review sales promotion activities on baby foods and to introduce appropriate remedial measures, including advertisement codes and legislation where necessary.

The 33rd World Health Assembly, en May 1980, endorsed in their entirety the statement and recommendations agreed by consensus at this joint WHO/UNICEF meeting and made particular mention of the recommendation that "There should be an international code of marketing of infant formula and other products used as breast-milk substitutes".

To develop the code numerous and lengthy consultations were held with all interested parties. In May 1981 the Health Assembly debated and adopted the Code.



Rights: © WHO
Suggested citation:

World Health Organization (WHO). (2008) International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes: Frequently asked questions (updated version 2008) [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 2nd April 2020].


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