BENGALURU: Career, late marriages, advanced maternal age, professional stress, lifestyle changes and other reasons are leading to decreased secretion of breast milk, and depriving babies of the best source of nutrition.
Doctors and experts have expressed concern over this trend, as the world observes Breastfeeding Awareness Week. They state that around 15-20 per cent of new mothers struggle to breastfeed due to low milk production, and 40-50 per cent of mothers are forced to stop breastfeeding due to professional reasons, within two or three months of birth.
Dr Santosh Kumar, neonatologist and paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital, said, “Pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, premature birth, genetic modulation, environment, stress in balancing professional and family life, food habits, nutrition, sleep cycle and exposure to new diseases impact breast milk production.”
Experts say that women should seek doctors’ advice on preventing these issues, and on improving lactation, or they can opt for infant formula or pasteurised donor human milk from a milk bank, preferably for premature or sick babies.
However, they also caution that such milk can cause necrotizing enterocolitis, and bottle feeding can lead to risk of infections like diarrhoea, ear infection, pneumonia and sepsis. It can also put infants at risk of long-term problems like obesity, metabolic syndrome and poor scholastic performance.
Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Smrithi D Nayak said breast milk is the best source of nutrition for optimal growth of the baby. She said it protects children against allergies, infections, sickness and diseases like diabetes and cancer. Ideally, mothers should breastfeed for six months to at least one year.