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UN supports 'brelfies' to encourage breastfeeding

GENEVA (Reuters) - If you're hesitating about sending a brelfie, the United Nations says go for it.

A social media trend of mothers sharing "brelfies" - pictures of themselves breastfeeding - is a good way to break down any stigma about breastfeeding in public and spread the word about the importance of a mother's milk, the United Nations said on Friday.

"It's absolutely to be encouraged," World Health Organization spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva when asked about the brelfie fad.

Christophe Boulierac, a spokesman for the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, said "World Breastfeeding Week" starts on Aug. 1, and the U.N. wants to get people talking about breastfeeding to improve infant nutrition around the world.

"Everything that can be done should be done. This is a golden opportunity," he said.

UNICEF says 77 million newborns, about half of all babies, are not fed at the breast within an hour of birth, depriving them of the essential nutrients, antibodies and skin-to-skin contact that protect them from disease and death.

Babies who get no breast milk at all are seven times more likely to die from infections than those who got at least some breast milk in their first six months, UNICEF said in a statement.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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