OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Women, children and others who promote the benefits of breastfeeding attended events Thursday in the Bay Area for World Breastfeeding Week.

Rallies in Oakland and Concord were held to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, which was first celebrated in 1992 to protect and support breastfeeding, event organizers said.

More than 170 countries will participate and host events this week, organizers said.

World Breastfeeding Week began after UNICEF and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action adopted the Innocenti Declaration, which launched the global goal for all infants to be fed exclusively on breast milk from birth until they are about 4 to 6 months old. It also encourages continuing to breastfeed children until they are about 2 years old while they also receive complementary nutrition from food.

The Innocenti Declaration was designed to reinforce breastfeeding as preferable to bottle-feeding, according to UNICEF.

The declaration, which was adopted in August 1990, proclaimed that breastfeeding provided the ideal nutrition for infants, reduced the risk of obesity and infectious disease, and lowered infant morbidity and mortality.

According to UNICEF, breastfeeding also benefits mothers by reducing the risk for diabetes as well as breast and ovarian cancers, and by increasing mother-infant bonding.

At noon, supporters gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland to raise awareness for World Breastfeeding Week. The group then walked to downtown Oakland near the corner of 14th Street and Broadway.

The Contra Costa Health Services’ Women, Infants and Children program is also hosting a rally at Todos Santos Plaza during the farmers’ market at 5 p.m. to recognize the week.

More information about the advantages of breastfeeding can be found at www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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