8 Lakh Infants Die Every Year Due to Inadequate Breastfeeding

Published: 10th December 2013 05:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th December 2013 05:08 PM   |  A+A-


Over eight lakh infant deaths are caused annually due to lack of optimal breastfeeding and inability of nations to invest in the practice despite its well established benefits for mothers and children.

Breastfeeding is globally among the most under-funded nutrition interventions despite the fact that it can help prevent non-communicable diseases including cancers, while the burden of purchasing baby formula products is growing despite its risks to infant health.            

Projecting a rise in global sales of baby foods by 37 per cent – from USD 11.5 billion to USD 42.7 billion between 2008 and 2013 -- a global paper launched today has warned governments of the adverse effects of neglecting optimal breastfeeding.      

Part of the World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative, the paper titled, 'The Need to Invest in Babies – A Global Drive for Financial Investments in Children’s Health and Development through Universalising Interventions for Optimal Breastfeeding' asks governments to invest in optimal breastfeeding to improve child health and reduce costs in the treatment of non-communicable diseases in the future.    

The paper estimates that an investment of USD 17.5 billion must be made to put in place a package of interventions globally to create an enabling environment for breastfeeding.         

Optimal breastfeeding is defined as timely initiation of breastfeeding -- within one hour of birth--, exclusive breastfeeding --without water and other liquids-- till six months; and continued breastfeeding for two years of life with the introduction of adequate complementary foods.         

Arguing for such investments, the paper says nations can avoid a lot of wastage by investing in breastfeeding practices.    

"Strong evidence from randomised trials shows the average effect of early weaning from exclusive breastfeeding  reduces child's IQ by 3 to 7 points.       

"This is comparable with prenatal lead exposure with cognitive damage akin to several months of wasted schooling," says the paper launched in India today.   

The authors of the paper ask some tough questions of Governments.        

"Why in some countries is the baby food formula industry subsidised to actively promote the loss of human capability to breastfeed a child? In the US alone the cost of prematurely weaning babies from exclusive breastfeeding is some USD 13 billion and hundreds of lives annually," points out the initiative of the International Baby Food Action Network.           

Of the 135 million babies born annually in the world, almost 83 million suffer from lack of optimal breastfeeding practices.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp