Monday, August 6, 2012

Breastfeeding- the healthier choice for babies

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

With an upsurge of various diseases and pressures of daily living affecting most women, some mothers are being forced to reduce or stop breast feeding altogether before the
recommended six months, denying their infants the much needed nutrients from breast milk.

From August 1 to 7, mothers in more than 170 countries celebrate World Breastfeeding week, a period meant to encourage breast feeding and the improvement of the health of babies.

The week commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

WHO recommends excluse breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

Eliva Mwewa Mwansa, a mother of one,  said, “I went back to work after 3months but wish I could have spent more time exclusively feeding my baby for the recommended months. Unfortunately, my baby refused formulae so I started giving her light cereal at 3 months. I am still breast feeding and she now eats solid foods, so I only breastfeed her when I get home, mostly in the night. Luckily she is a very healthy child.”

According to UNICEF, despite compelling evidence that exclusive breastfeeding prevents diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia that kill millions of children every year, global rates of breastfeeding have remained relatively stagnant in developing countries, recording a minimal growth from 32 percent in 1995 to 39 in 2010.

“If breastfeeding were promoted more effectively and women were protected from aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, we would see more children survive and thrive, with lower rates of disease and lower rates of malnutrition and stunting,” said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.

He believes that strong national policies supporting breastfeeding could prevent the deaths of around 1 million children under five in the developing world each year.

In 2008, the Lancet Nutrition series revealed that a non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed child.

“Breastfeeding needs to be valued as a benefit which is not only good for babies, mothers, and families, but also as a saving for governments in the long run,” said Lake.

In June, world leaders meeting in Washington, DC, pledged as part of the “committing to Child Survival: A promise Renewed” movement to work toward ending preventable child deaths.

1 comment:

Ferdinard Okwor said...

It's unfortunate that the craze to keep fit and look younger is driving our African sisters to go the way of some western women by abandoning weaning their new born before the first month birthday. This is most ignoble, I must say.