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J Hum Lact. 1997 Dec;13(4):299-305.

Human milk: an invisible food resource.

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Nutrition Institute, University of Oslo, Norway.


Human milk is an invaluable food resource for infants and young children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Statistics on production of human milk at local and national levels are lacking. In this article, estimates of the quantity of human milk production in Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe were calculated. Annual production in the urban and rural areas in Mali was 13 and 17 kg per capita, respectively. National annual median production ranged from 93,000 (Zimbabwe) to 1.3 million metric tons (Nigeria), and from 9 (Zimbabwe) to 15 kg per capita (Mali). Given a value of (US)$1 per liter, inclusion of human milk in calculations of the gross national product (GNP) for these countries would increase this value by more than 5% for Mali, and nearly 2% for Senegal. Human milk is a significant food source to children in this region and should be included in national food statistics due to its nutritional and economic importance.

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