Breast is best for SA ba­bies

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

THE South African De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­vey (SADHS) found that a third of SA chil­dren un­der six months’ old are now ex­clu­sively breast­fed.

This rep­re­sents a nearly five-fold in­crease over the past 20 years – a shift that has been largely thanks to the com­bined ef­forts of breastfeeding ad­vo­cates, health-care providers and the gov­ern­ment.

In 1998 the SADHS found that just 7% of in­fants un­der the age of six months were ex­clu­sively breast­fed. The lat­est edi­tion found that the pro­por­tion had in­creased to 32% by 2016.

Breastfeeding ac­tivist and South African Breast Milk Re­serve (SABR) ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Stasha Jor­dan said: “The sur­vey is wel­come ev­i­dence that so­ci­ety can and will change its at­ti­tude to breastfeeding, given the right in­ter­ven­tions.”

Since its in­cep­tion in 2003, the SABR has set up, op­er­ated and handed over 51 hu­man milk banks, serv­ing more than 100 hos­pi­tals through­out South Africa.

Th­ese banks pro­vide much­needed breast milk to both pre­ma­ture ba­bies of moth­ers who have dif­fi­culty ini­ti­at­ing lac­ta­tion, and or­phaned ba­bies.

“We are lucky to have great part­ners in the pro­vin­cial and na­tional de­part­ments of health, Dis­cov­ery and Net­care. To­gether we have helped save the lives of thou­sands of pre­ma­ture and very-low-birth-weight in­fants in neona­tal in­ten­sive care units,” Jor­dan said.

Lim­popo Depart­ment of Health deputy di­rec­tor of nu­tri­tion, Daddy Matthews, said last year the depart­ment ex­panded its hu­man milk bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, aim­ing to pro­tect, pro­mote and sup­port breastfeeding, by es­tab­lish­ing the first state-of-the-art hu­man milk bank­ing fa­cil­ity in Lim­popo. To get in­volved with the SABR visit: www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or email: info@sabr. org.za. – Staff Re­porter

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