International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes


World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 36
Publication date: 1981
Languages: English, French, Russian, Spanish
ISBN: 92 4 154160 1



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".

In May 1981 the Health Assembly debated the issue after it had been introduced by the representative of the Executive Board. It adopted the code, as proposed, on 21 May by 118 votes.

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