Only 20 percent of Chinese women understood what exclusive breastfeeding means while more than 50 percent of mothers stopped exclusive breastfeeding before their child was six months old, according to a poll.
The survey, conducted by Beijing Horizon Research Consultancy Group for Save the Children China Program, was released during this year's World Breastfeeding Week, lasting from Aug 1-7, The China Daily reports.
Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as giving only breast milk without any other food or drink, including water. Nonetheless, four in five respondents believed complementary water and food like milk power could be added during the course of feeding breast milk.
"Breast milk supplies sufficient and balanced nutrition for a baby within the first six months of life," said Dai Yaohua, a doctor at Beijing-based Capital Institute of Pediatrics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and China's Ministry of Health both suggested caregivers to add complementary food for infants when they are six months old and continue breastfeeding until they are two years old or more.
The poll also found that only 29 percent mothers exclusively breastfed their babies for six months, while more than half of the interviewees failed to do so.
Insufficient breast milk and having no time to continue breastfeeding after returning from work (31 percent) were cited as two major reasons young mothers were unable to exclusively breastfeed for six months.