High rate of breastfeeding among Assam mothers

Guwahati: Assam has the distinction of having a high rate of breastfeeding among mothers but its overall practice needs improvement for health growth of the infant.

Breastfeeding rate is strikingly low across the country but Assam shows encouraging trends with 63.1 per cent exclusively going for breastfeed of their children, making it the second highest in the country, according to the National Family Health Survey-III data.

Breastfeeding practices in Assam, however, need improvement as only 50.6 per cent mothers initiate early breastfeeding and about 35.8 per cent children are underweight.

Lack of information, traditional belief of pre-lactal feeding and substituting breast milk with other local and commercial baby food products are the leading reasons for low breastfeeding rates in the state, the survey pointed out.

Assam is currently observing the `World Breastfeeding Week` with the rest of the country to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding.

`Save the Children`, India has in this connection launched a major drive to encourage breastfeeding in 35 villages of three districts in Assam-Barpeta, Morigaon and Nalbari with the focal theme `Breastfeeding support: Close to Mothers`.

"We are planning to reach out to approximately 1,750 mothers across 35 villages in the three districts to encourage them to exclusively breastfeed their babies till six months and thereafter continue breastfeeding along with complementary feeding till they turn two years," Save the Children`s Assam Programme Manager Rajan Mohanty said.