Send to

Choose Destination
Paediatr Child Health. 2017 Jul;22(4):180-183. doi: 10.1093/pch/pxx067. Epub 2017 May 24.

The breastfeeding paradox: Relevance for household food insecurity.

Author information

School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
Division of Paediatric Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.
Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.
Social Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario.
SickKids Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario.


Mitigating the harmful effects of adverse social conditions is critical to promoting optimal health and development throughout the life course. Many Canadians worry over food access or struggle with household food insecurity. Public policy positions breastfeeding as a step toward eradicating poverty. Breastfeeding fulfills food security criteria by providing the infant access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets dietary needs and food preferences. Unfortunately, a breastfeeding paradox exists where infants of low-income families who would most gain from the health benefits, are least likely to breastfeed. Solving household food insecurity and breastfeeding rates may be best realized at the public policy level. Notably, the health care provider's competencies as medical expert, professional, communicator and advocate are paramount. Our commentary aims to highlight the critical link between breastfeeding and household food insecurity that may provide opportunities to affect clinical practice, public policy and child health outcomes.


Breastfeeding; Child health; Food insecurity; Paediatrician; Social paediatrics.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center