Politics Aside, Breastfeeding in First Hour of Life Vital to Newborns

Breastfeeding challenges: Paediatrician urges mothers to seek medical help early

Breastfeeding challenges: Paediatrician urges mothers to seek medical help early

PAHO said breastfeeding also improves a child's IQ, school readiness and attendance, and is associated with earning higher income when they reach adulthood. "The first six months the baby should be exclusively fed of breast milk and after that other foods could be introduced in a phased manner, while continuing breast milk", Dr. Pallavi told The Hindu on Thursday.

Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, and head of The Birthing Team, recommends in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines, that breastfeeding start within an hour after birth and that babies are given breast milk exclusively at first.

The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2018 is, "Breastfeeding: The Foundation of Life". However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breastfeeding report card, at three months of age, only 39 percent of infants are exclusively breastfeeding, and at six months, only 16 percent of babies are still exclusively breastfed.

At least 49 per cent of newborns in Bangladesh are deprived of breastfeeding within one hour of their births. "In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death", says the UNICEF Executive Director, Ms Henrietta H. Fore.

"Capture the Moment", which analyses data from 76 countries, finds that despite the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding, too many newborns are left waiting too long for different reasons.

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A new report - jointly published on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, to coincide with the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week- observed mothers in 76 low and middle-income countries. According to research published in Lancet, 22,000 deaths from breast cancer could be prevented worldwide annually with increased breastfeeding. Due to this, the baby finds it hard to attach to the breast. Some concerned moms complain that they do not have enough milk, but it is because they are only feeding their babies on demand. Cultural practices that involve giving the baby honey or other foods right after birth can also be an important reason for delay in breast feeding say the team.

The report agrees that there are numerous women who can not breast feed and lack of support remains one of the major reasons for not breastfeeding.

The report urges governments, donors and other decision makers to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes. "The appropriate care of both new born and mother in the moments after birth is critical to ensuring that breastfeeding not only begins but continues successfully".

"We must urgently scale up support to mothers, be it from family members, healthcare workers, employers and governments so they can give their children the start they deserve", he added.

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