As the world marks Global Breast Feeding Week A Mid-wife at Nyanshegu medical center in the northern region, Ms. Samira Mohammed has advised women in the region to practice exclusive breast feeding.
According to her, breast-milk is a protective food for infants to guard against infections which are common during emergencies. Infants who are not breastfed she added, are more at risk of succumbing to diarrhea, acute respiratory tract infection, malnutrition and even death.
She added that for infants to survive, grow and develop properly they require the right proportion of nutrients. Breast milk is rich in nutrients and anti-bodies and contains the right quantities of fat, sugar, water and protein.
These nutrients according to Ms. Mohammed are major pre-requisites for the health and survival of the baby. Reports indicate that babies who are not breast fed for the first six months of life are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia compared to newborns that are breast fed exclusively for six months after birth.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 220,000 children could be saved every year with exclusive breastfeeding.
World Breast feeding week is celebrated from the first to seventh August every year all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. Ms Mohammed therefore recommended that colostrum, the yellowish sticky breast milk that is produced at the end of pregnancy as the ideal food for newborns to be given within the first hour of birth, a process referred to as early initiation.
Exclusive breast feeding, she noted, should be given from birth up to 6 months and continued breastfeeding is recommended with appropriate complementary food until the child celebrates his/her second year birth day without water, food or drink. The only exceptions are re-hydration salts and syrups that contain medicine. This the mid-wife stressed has become essential for mothers to be counselled, encouraged and supported to initiate exclusive breastfeeding.
"Governments, family members and community health workers all have a role to play in the survival of newborns through the uptake of exclusive breast feeding," she said. She also advised women who are breast feeding to observe personal hygiene, eat nutritious food, drink lot of fluids, avoid self-medications, alcohol and other foods that might be harmful to the baby internally and externally.
BY: LILIAN D. WALTER