London: A children`s charity has said that the lives of 95 babies could be saved every hour if mothers started breastfeeding their newborns in the hour after their birth.
According to a report by Save the Children, receiving a mother`s first milk within an hour will kickstart the child`s immune system, making a newborn three times more likely to surviv, Sky News reported.
If the mother continues feeding for the next six months, then a child growing up in the developing world is up to 15 times less likely to die from killer diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, the report said.
There has been enormous progress in reducing child mortality, but more could be done if mothers were encouraged to breastfeed, the charity noted.
"If every baby was fed during the first hour of life - what we call the `power hour` - we estimate that up to 830,000 newborn deaths could be prevented every year - that`s 95 babies every hour," said Justin Forsyth, Save the Children`s chief executive.
Breastfeeding rates are declining across East Asia and in some of Africa`s most populous countries such as Ethiopia and Nigeria, according to the report, called Superfood For Babies.
The charity cites a lack of empowerment and education for women, severe shortages of midwives and health workers in the developing world, and lack of adequate maternity legislation as factors for this decline.
It also cites "inappropriate" marketing techniques by some baby milk substitute companies leading mothers to believe formula is the best way to feed their babies.