HEALTH THROUGH BREASTMILK
The heritage of the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation begins with Olle and Doris Larsson-Rosenquist. Both were born in the late 1920s and brought up in southern Sweden, where they later met and married. In 1955, the couple moved to Switzerland, where Olle, an engineer and inventor at heart, had been offered a position as head of the design department of a renowned Swiss company. Their two sons, Göran and Michael, born in 1955 and 1958, made their happiness complete. The family settled comfortably in their new home country, becoming Swiss citizens in 1969.
Ever an entrepreneur, Olle established his own medical and electronic devices business in the early 1960s. Decades later, it would be the market-leader in its field. Over the years, Olle added new companies to what became a diverse portfolio. Grouped under Olle Larsson Holding AG, which was founded in 2001, they manufacture a variety of products and invest significant focus and capital into research and development.
Doris was a constant source of support and encouragement for Olle during his professional endeavours. She was also a driving force in the family’s early recognition of the importance of breastfeeding, and in breastmilk’s vital influence on newborn development and the long-term health of mothers and children. Sadly, Doris Larsson-Rosenquist passed away in 2000.
Yet Doris’ family carried her legacy forward, bringing what had become a matter of heart and vision to fruition. In 2013, Olle, Göran and Michael donated part of their family wealth to an independent, philanthropic foundation dedicated entirely to the advancement of breastfeeding and breastmilk – the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is the best source of nourishment for infants and young children and one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. UNICEF calls it a miracle investment, the closest thing the world has to a magic bullet for child survival.
And the United Nations says breastfeeding is the ‘smartest investment’ families, communities and countries can make, critical to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals: “it improves nutrition, SDG 2; prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases, SDG 3; and supports cognitive development and education, SDG 4. Breastfeeding is also an enabler to ending poverty, promoting economic growth and reducing inequalities.”
Breastmilk provides all the nutrients needed for a child’s healthy growth and development. Breastmilk furthermore contains many other life components that help protect against both childhood infectious diseases, such as gastro-intestinal infections and pneumonia, and later-life, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
An integral part of the reproductive system, breastfeeding also has important health implications for mothers, reducing risks for breast and ovarian cancer and type II diabetes.
The WHO recommends babies be breastfed exclusively until six months of age, and then breastfed with complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. Nevertheless, it reports just 38 percent of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed or receive only breastmilk.
The reasons behind this figure are numerous and complex, and can vary considerably according to a mother’s personal and sociocultural circumstances. And even though breastfeeding is natural, it may not always come ‘naturally’. Rather, it is a learned practice. A network of support from family, friends, healthcare providers, communities and governments is required to empower mothers to breastfeed successfully.
Breastmilk is often undervalued or grouped under other mother and child health and nutrition initiatives. However, this liquid gold can save millions of lives each year.
This is why, backed by sound science, our objective is to drive the changes in practice that will increase rates of breastfeeding, and improve the health of mothers and children worldwide.
The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation was established in 2013, born from the vision of a world in which every child is granted an optimum start in life through the benefits of breastmilk.
Based in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, it is one of the world’s only philanthropic foundations dedicated entirely to supporting and promoting breastfeeding and breastmilk.
Backed by sound science, its objective is to drive changes in practice that will increase rates of breastfeeding, and improve the health of mothers and children worldwide. It furthers this objective by contributing to the long-term discovery, dissemination and deployment of evidence-based knowledge.
Together with a global network of leading experts, it is creating publicly available, sustainable resources and educational tools that help healthcare providers, governments, communities and families overcome obstacles and achieve their breastfeeding goals.