Child health outcomes are affected by breastfeeding initiation. According to the World Health Organization, early initiation of breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for both the mother and infant, including reduction in infant mortality and ill health. Children who are breastfed as babies perform well in intelligence tests and as adults are less likely to be overweight/obese than children who were not breastfed; mothers have reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
Health Canada also promotes breastfeeding as the normal and unequalled method of feeding infants for their nutrition, immunologic protection, growth and development. Breastfeeding initiation can be an important indicator of future child health and development. Of those who initiated breastfeeding, 54% continued for the recommended six months (or longer).