Babies must be breastfed, says new Indonesian law

A law has been passed in Indonesia that stipulates all babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life.

From early next year, anyone who stands in the way of this will be fined up to $15,000 and sentenced to up to a year in prison.

The merits of exclusive breastfeeding for six months have been espoused by the World Health Organisation and Unicef, which say it could help to bring down Indonesian's high child malnutrition rate.

A 2007 government survey found that nearly 40% of children under five had stunted growth because of malnutrition.

Almost all Indonesian women traditionally breastfeed their children at some point after birth, the BBC reports, but not many do it exclusively. In fact, according to recent data, exclusive breastfeeding rates dropped by 10% between 2006 and 2008.

International code not adopted

Indonesia already provides women with three months' paid maternity leave, and the government says the new law will enforce rules requiring companies to provide female employees with breastfeeding facilities.

Indonesia has yet, however, to adopt the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, which regulates the milk formula industry by ensuring that its products aren't freely marketed to new and easily influenced mothers.

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