Breastfeeding most effective life saver for newborns
New Delhi: Breastfeeding is the most effective and inexpensive "life-safer" for newborns as well as their first immunisation and it supports the child`s ability to learn while helping prevent obesity and chronic diseases later in life, according to experts.
Highlighting the importance of breastfeeding, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta today said, "There is no other single intervention that has such a high impact for babies and mothers as breastfeeding and which costs so little for governments. Breastfeeding is a baby’s first immunisation and the most effective and inexpensive life-saver ever."
Starting breastfeeding in the first hour after birth can reduce the risk of new-born death by up to 22 per cent by averting deaths related to sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhoea and hypothermia. Children who are exclusively breastfed are 14 times more likely to survive, the first six months of life, than non-breastfed children, UNICEF stated.
Breastfeeding also supports a child`s ability to learn and helps prevent obesity and chronic diseases later in life.
Apart from the benefits to the baby, mothers who breastfeed exclusively are less likely to become pregnant in the first six months following delivery, they recover faster after giving birth, and return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner.
Evidence shows that they experience less post-partum depression and also have a lower risk of ovarian and breast cancers later in life, UNICEF stated.
Due to constant efforts by the government and various agencies, the rates of initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth have increased from 25 per cent in 2006 to 34 per cent in 2009.
The Annual Health Survey 2011 shows that rates of initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth has increased from 12 per cent in 2006 to 42 per cent in 2011 in seven states-Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan (where about 55 per cent of Indian infants are born and 72 per cent of infant deaths occur).
This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) is `Breastfeeding support close to mothers` emphasises the importance of investing in frontline workers` capacity so that they can ably reach out to mothers and their families.
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