BANGALORE: Forty-one per cent of newborns who die in the first month of their life could be saved if breastfed in the first hour of their life, according to researchers.
“Ignorance about the benefits of breast-feeding is rampant among rural women. However, many working women in urban area have difficulty in initiating breast-feeding due to their stressful lifestyles. As a result, they tend to opt for formula feeding as an easy alternative. This is a bigger problem among urban women than among rural women and should be discouraged,” says Dr Prabha Ramakrishna, Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, Sakra World Hospital.
“Mothers should be made aware that breast milk is the best, cheapest and most easily accessible nourishment for their baby in the first six months,” she added.
World Health Organisation recommends early initiation of breastfeeding (within an hour after birth) as the initial milk, known as colostrum, is loaded with protective agents. Also called ‘the gift of life’, the colostrum helps strengthen the baby’s immune system and defends it against common childhood infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
UNICEF’s global figures indicate that in 2012, 27 million of the 85 million newborns worldwide who failed to receive the benefits of breastfeeding for the first six months of life, belonged to India and China alone.