Consumerism is taking a heavy toll on infants in the state, with a growing number of young mothers choosing to stop breastfeeding and opting for baby food at the pre-six month phase.
Going by the latest study conducted by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB), the use of commercial baby food and the practice of complementary feeding before six months of age are higher in the state. According to available data, Kerala tops the list for the highest use of commercial baby food with 33 percent, followed by Odisha (17.7) and Tamil Nadu (15.2).
Making matters worse, the unhealthy practice of complementary feeding before six months of age was equally high in Kerala (51.2 percent). Gujarat had the lowest recording at one per cent.
The study also found that babies in the state (32.1 percent) under the age group of one to three years had inadequate quantity of protein and other nutrients in their diet. On this front infants in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh were on a better plank.
Besides, about 79 percent of the infants below six months were solely breastfed that ranged from 47 percent in Kerala to 94 percent in Maharashtra. Gynaecologist P A Lalitha said the habit of giving commercial baby food instead of traditional foods is quite common. She added that the majority of women prefer to give these types of food for their children due to their hectic life schedule, nuclear family set up and other social issues.
Dr T Jayakrishnan, Associate Professor of Kozhikode Medical College, said since most are working women, they introduce complementary breast feeding even before the child attains six months.