New Delhi: Breastfeeding in the first hour of birth can reduce the risk of neo-natal deaths by 33 per cent, a survey revealed a day before the start of the Nutrition week, said. According to a survey in India, malnutrition claims one out of three lives among children under five. It said that 46 per cent of deaths in children under-five occur in the neo-natal period and breastfeeding in the first hour can reduce the risk of neo-natal deaths by 33 per cent. The survey said that a large majority of these deaths are attributed to inappropriate feeding practices during the initial years of life.
Breast milk is the child’s first source of nutrition and immunity, protecting them from various diseases such as diarrhoea, respiratory infection, sepsis, omphalitis, hypothermia, weight loss, and malnutrition. Despite the known benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby over 30 per cent of mothers fed their babies with formula milk immediately after birth highlighting the fact that a large majority of Indian mothers do not engage in the act of breastfeeding to provide the first and best nutrition for their babies.
Nutrition is integral to of survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations. Breastfeeding is a healthy start for laying a strong foundation in the initial years as breast milk provides the energy and nutrients that an infant requires during this stage, it stated. The survey also highlights that the first feed post birth is especially critical as it contains, colostrum which acts as a shield against a host of fatal diseases and impacts the intelligence of the child positively. The lack of breastfeeding practices among mothers can be due to reasons such as low awareness, increasingly stressful lifestyles, home and work-life imbalance, lack of adequate family support and health conditions.
Commenting on the need for mothers to breastfeed for providing the best nutrition to their babies during the initial years, Emilie Moulard, Managing Director, Medela India said, “The health benefits of mother’s milk are abounded and leave an imprint on the child for a lifetime. Therefore, we at Medela engage in comprehensive and consistent research on human milk as we strongly believe that it is the best suited for infants. Our aim is to enable and empower mothers to breastfeed at home and in workplaces by providing lactation support so that they can continue being a nutrition provider for their babies."
The National Nutrition Week is commemorated from September 1st -7th, every year to raise awareness on the importance of nutrition for good health which has far-reaching implications on the development, productivity and economic growth of the nation.(UNI)