Ben­e­fits of exclusive breast feed­ing

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - By Fa­had Ibrahim & Hamisu Kabir Matazu, Da­maturu

Breast feed­ing has a lot of ben­e­fits. The ben­e­fits are much more when the child is breast fed ex­clu­sively. It pro­vides ba­bies with es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents and an­ti­bod­ies that pro­tect them from mal­nu­tri­tion, pre­vent dis­eases and death.

In­spite of these ben­e­fits, exclusive breast feed­ing rates still re­main low.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­is­ter of Health, Prof. Isaac Ade­wole, the Exclusive Breast­feed­ing (EBF) rate has shown only mar­ginal in­crease from the very low rate of 2% in 1990 to 17% in 2013; and the cur­rent rate is 25% as re­ported in the 2014 Na­tional Nu­tri­tion and Health Sur­veys (NNHS).

He said: “The Na­tional Pol­icy on In­fant and Young Child Feed­ing de­scribes exclusive breast­feed­ing as giv­ing infants only breast milk in the first six months of life; no other liq­uids, drinks, semi-solids or solids, and not even-wa­ter ex­cept oral re­hy­dra­tion so­lu­tion or drops/ syrups of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als or medicines as pre­scribed by the physi­cian.”

“The ben­e­fits of un­re­stricted exclusive breast­feed­ing prac­tices as ini­ti­ated within an hour from birth re­sults in am­ple milk pro­duc­tion to sus­tain the infants; (ex­cept for a few med­i­cal con­di­tions), lead to 87% pre­ventable deaths in infants younger than 6 months (2016 Lancet se­ries on Breast­feed­ing), re­duces in­fant mor­tal­ity as­so­ci­ated with com­mon child­hood ill­nesses like di­ar­rhoea or pneu­mo­nia and en­sures quicker re­cov­ery from ill­nesses.

“The mother also ben­e­fits max­i­mally in child spac­ing, re­duc­tion of ovar­ian and breast can­cers, and en­sur­ing rapid ma­ter­nal weight loss af­ter birth,” the min­is­ter said.

The Yobe State Com­mis­sioner of Health, Dr Muham­mad Bello Kawuwa said that early ini­ti­a­tion rates and exclusive breast-feed­ing to infants and young chil­dren has re­mained very low in Yobe State.

The com­mis­sioner dis­closed this, dur­ing a press brief­ing to mark this year’s World Breast-feed­ing Week in Da­maturu.

He said the poor prac­tice was due to bar­ri­ers brought by myths and be­liefs at vil­lage level, and some­times health­care sys­tem prac­tices by pro­fes­sion­als that may not ‘in­ten­tion­ally’ or ‘un­in­ten­tion­ally’ sup­port op­ti­mal Breast­feed­ing prac­tices.

The Com­mis­sioner said the min­istry had re­ceived re­ports that there was a be­lief among poor moth­ers, in both ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas, that in­fant for­mula was best for their infants.

He noted that the task be­fore all stake­hold­ers in the breast-feed­ing cru­sade was to make the moth­ers/ women un­der­stand, ap­pre­ci­ate and be more aware of the im­por­tance of breast­feed­ing, and it’s ben­e­fit for moth­ers and the chil­dren.

Kawuwa said for over 30 years, vo­lu­mi­nous body of sci­en­tific re­search had con­clu­sively shown that breast milk is the gold stan­dard’ when it comes to in­fant nu­tri­tion.

He also re­vealed that the re­search has at­trib­uted neona­tal and child mor­tal­ity, poor growth and nu­tri­tion sta­tus, lower scores on cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment and in­tel­li­gence tests, and in­creased risk of chronic dis­eases to ar­ti­fi­cial feed­ing such as for­mula milk.

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