`Breastfeeding crucial for countering infant mortality`

New Delhi: Calling for awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath on Thursday said exclusive breastfeeding to a child for the first six months is crucial for preventing infant mortality and malnutrition.

"Optimal breastfeeding together with complimentary nutrition can prevent malnutrition and can save one million children`s lives. I also understand that one fifth of child mortality is prevented through exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and appropriate complimentary feeding after six months," Tirath said at the `World Breastfeeding Conference being held here.

She said that there is a need to bring awareness about benefits of breast-feeding which ensures immunity among toddlers.

"Awareness about breastfeeding need to be generated among women and an enabling environment in the society created for their well being and growth," she said.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme of the government is the largest outreach programme of its kind for the development of children and pregnant and lactating women, she said.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the conference, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said "the bonding of the mother`s milk is stronger than the DNA bonding."


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