WHO Code Resources

International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes

Resources for lactation professionals and supporters

All health workers, paid and unpaid, especially those working with families and infants, have a responsibility to encourage and protect breastfeeding, and to make themselves familiar with their responsibilities under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly resolutions (the Code). This page is a curated collection of resources to provide the information needed to do so. These resources and more can also be found in the Global Breastfeeding Collective Toolkit.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1981, intended to be incorporated in national legislation as a minimum requirement. Its aim is to provide safe and adequate nutrition for infants by protecting breastfeeding and the proper use of breastmilk substitutes when necessary. The Code has been clarified and expanded through numerous WHA resolutions and by the WHO Guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children. References to the Code should be understood to include all of these.

For those who are IBCLCs, the Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs states: “A crucial part of an IBCLC’s duty to protect families is adherence to the principles and aim of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly’s resolutions.”

Remember, this is a code of marketing: it does not prohibit use or sale of the covered products but regulates their promotion.

This link includes the original Code, and links to all subsequent, relevant resolutions, including the Guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.

This new guide (published 2023) seeks to consolidate the provisions of the Code, WHA resolutions and the Guidance in one place. It is intended to facilitate readers’ ability to improve implementation of and compliance with the Code, and identify violations.

This short 2-page pamphlet (published in 2022) offers a quick guide summarizing the Code, and highlights the role of health care workers and health facilities.

This resource (published in 2023) provides in-depth information on how the baby food industry engages in interference and creates conflicts of interest.

This FAQ  (published in 2020) answers many questions that health workers may have on their responsibilities under the Code.

This Information Note clarifies what types of sponsorship of health professional and scientific meetings by the baby food industry are inappropriate.

This free e-course titled, Introduction to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and updated in 2023, provides a thorough introduction to the Code.

This 2022 Status Report provides information on the status of implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (BMS) and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions (collectively referred to as “the Code”) in countries.

This report from Save the Children and other organizations (published in 2018) provides excellent information on the importance of regulating the marketing of commercial milk formula.