Monday December 11, 2017

World Breastfeeding Week: Breast milk, the answer to malnutrition in children

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Baby-global

By Nithin Sridhar

“World Breastfeeding Week” is being celebrated throughout the world from 1-August till 7-August.

The practice of dedicating the first week of August to breastfeeding of children was started in 1992 by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and ever since it has been celebrated every year in collaboration with United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations and governments.

WABA was formed in 1991 with an aim to promote breastfeeding worldwide. Breastfeeding has a large number of benefits to both mothers and children. It being the natural method of providing nutrition to children, is better than other kinds of feeding like formula feeding, especially in early months. Breastfeeding is especially effective in fighting malnutrition problems in children under 5-years of age, especially in developing and under developed countries.

Breastfeeding prevents malnutrition in children under 5-years of age

Mother carrying her child and weight on her head

Malnutrition is very much prevalent in India. According to NHFS 3 (2005-2006), 48% children of under 5-years are stunted, 19.8% of children are wasted (i.e. too thin with regard to their height) and 43% were underweight.

One of the best methods to fight malnutrition among under 5-years children is through breastfeeding. The Dadhich report quotes NHFS-3 statistics that show that the practice of breastfeeding the child within one hour of its birth is only 24.5% in India. The exclusive breastfeeding rates in children up to six months age is also just 46.4%.

If breastfeeding rates of both initiation within half or one hour of birth and exclusive feeding till 6 months are increased, there will be a definite decrease in malnutrition. The Dachich report illustrates the statistics from Lancet series to illustrate this. The Lancet series on child survival and new born survival has summarized that by achieving a 90% coverage in exclusive breastfeeding, around 13-15 percent of malnutrition deaths in under 5-years children, in the poor countries can be prevented.

Another report states: “Suboptimum breastfeeding, especially non-exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life, results in 1·4 million deaths and 10% of disease burden in children younger than 5 years.”

Therefore, India should attempt to double its exclusive breastfeeding rates, so that malnutrition can be effectively countered. Apart from fighting Malnutrition, breastfeeding has many health benefits for the babies as well.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breast milk is very vital for the growth of infants as they contain all the essential nutrients that are required by the baby. Ideally, the first breastfeed must be done within half an hour of the birth and exclusive breastfeeding must be carried out till the baby becomes 6-months old. Early initiation of breastfeeding is crucial as “colostrum” or the first milk contains various proteins, minerals, vitamins and antibodies that protects the child against diseases.

Breast milk is also easy to digest for the babies. Apart from this, breastfeeding helps to create a bond between the mother and the child and also reduces the risk of breast cancer in mothers.

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Breastfeeding also affects childhood intelligence and adult health. Children who were breastfed in their childhood are better protected against obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in their adult life. Therefore, various medical organizations including the WHO advice people to practice breastfeeding.

In 2014, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its member countries, while considering the reports submitted by India, advised India to: “Enhance efforts to promote exclusive breastfeeding practices, including breastfeeding from birth, complementary feeding strategies, with or without provisionof food supplements, as well as micronutrient interventions for mothers; ensure the effective implementation of, and compliance with, the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (WHO, 1981); put in place a monitoring and reporting system to identify violations of the Code and take stringent measures in all situations of violations of the Code, which include the promotion and distribution of infant formula samples and promotional materials by private-sector companies involved in the marketing and distribution of infant formula.”

Therefore, the government, NGOs and the people must join hands in promoting and supporting breastfeeding practices that will in-turn lead to a reduction in malnutrition among children.

 

 

  • Breast Milk is rightly called Lovebiotic for the infants! Babies are born to be breast-fed.

    • Jagdish Kumar Bhutani

      And the biological bonding, the act of breastfeeding creates is divine and eternal.

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Babies Can Understand Through Observation of People’s Action, Says Study

A new study suggests that babies learn to infer motivations of others much earlier than previously thought through observation of action and reaction.

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Babies Understanding
Babies Can Understand through Observation. Pixabay.

New York, Nov 26: Even a 10-month-old infant can tell how badly you want something by observing how hard you work to achieve it, says new study that suggests that babies learn to infer motivations of others much earlier than previously thought.

The ability to assess how much someone values a particular goal requires integrating information about both the costs of obtaining a goal and the benefit gained by the person seeking it.

The study published online in the journal Science also suggests that babies acquire very early an intuition about how people make decisions.

“This study is an important step in trying to understand the roots of common-sense understanding of other people’s actions,” said study co-author Josh Tenenbaum, Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

“It shows quite strikingly that in some sense, the basic math that is at the heart of how economists think about rational choice is very intuitive to babies who don’t know math, don’t speak, and can barely understand a few words,” Tenenbaum said.

Previous research had shown that adults and older children can infer someone’s motivations by observing how much effort that person exerts toward obtaining a goal.

The new study wanted to learn more about how and when this ability develops.

In the experiment, the researchers showed 10-month-old infants animated videos in which an “agent,” a cartoon character shaped like a bouncing ball, tries to reach a certain goal (another cartoon character).

In one of the videos, the agent has to leap over walls of varying height to reach the goal.

First, the babies saw the agent jump over a low wall and then refuse to jump over a medium-height wall.

Next, the agent jumped over the medium-height wall to reach a different goal, but refused to jump over a high wall to reach that goal.

The babies were then shown a scene in which the agent could choose between the two goals, with no obstacles in the way.

An adult or older child would assume the agent would choose the second goal, because the agent had worked harder to reach that goal in the video seen earlier.

The researchers found that 10-month-olds also reached this conclusion.

When the agent was shown choosing the first goal, infants looked at the scene longer, indicating that they were surprised by that outcome.

Length of looking time is commonly used to measure surprise in studies of infants.

“Across our experiments, we found that babies looked longer when the agent chose the thing it had exerted less effort for, showing that they infer the amount of value that agents place on goals from the amount of effort that they take toward these goals,” lead author of the study Shari Liu, a graduate student at Harvard University, said. (IANS)

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Breastmilk Aids to Combat Food Allergies in Newborns, says Research

Breastmilk of nursing mothers can help in protecting the newborns from developing food allergies, suggests a new research

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Breastmilk
Breastmilk aids in combatting diseases in Newborns. Pixabay.

New York, Nov 23: Breastmilk of nursing mothers who eat foods that commonly cause allergy, such as milk, eggs, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish during pregnancy can help protect newborns from developing food allergies, suggests a new research.

The mouse study, led by the University of Michigan, showed that when a nursing or pregnant mother is exposed to a food protein, it combines with her antibodies, which are transferred to the offspring through breasmilk and breastfeeding.

The food protein-antibody complexes are then introduced to the offspring’s developing immune system, triggering the production of protective T immune cells that suppress allergic reactions to the food.

These protective cells also persist after antibodies from the mother are gone, promoting long-term tolerance to the food.

The findings support the recent allergy prevention guidelines, which reject prior advice urging mothers to avoid high allergic foods during pregnancy or while breastfeeding breastmilk.

“This controlled study shows that mothers should feel free to eat a healthy and diverse diet throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding,” said James R. Baker, Professor at the University of Michigan.

“Eating a range of nutritious foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding will not promote food allergies in developing babies, and may protect them from food allergy,” Baker said.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, showed that breast milk from mothers who consumed allergenic foods protected against food allergy, preventing anaphylaxis as well as production of immunoglobulin E and expansion of mast cells, both hallmarks of an allergic response.

Breast milk was found protective even when fed to unrelated offspring not exposed to food allergens in utero.

In other experiments, mothers who had never consumed allergenic foods were given food-specific antibodies from other mothers. This, too, protected their breastfed offspring.

Human breast milk, fed to mice with humanised immune systems (tailored to respond to human antibodies), was also protective, suggesting that the mouse findings may translate to human infants. (IANS)

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Women can Boost their Working Memory with Hormone Therapy

Benefits of oestrogen therapy in women.

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oestrogen therapy can increase working memory under stress
oestrogen therapy can increase working memory under stress. wikimedia commons

New York, Nov 5: Undergoing a type of hormone replacement therapy — used for menopausal treatment — may help protect as well as improve working memory for some women as they age, according to a new study.

Hormone replacement therapy uses female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – to treat common symptoms of menopause and ageing.

The findings showed that women taking oestrogen-only therapy had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and performed better on tests of “working memory” following exposure to stress compared to women taking a placebo.

“Our study suggests that oestrogen treatment after menopause protects the memory that is needed for short-term cognitive tasks from the effects of stress,” said lead author Alexandra Ycaza Herrera, a researcher at the University of Southern California – Davis.

To measure the effect of oestrogen therapy on working memory under stress, the team recruited 42 women with an average age of 66.

Half of the postmenopausal women had been on estradiol — a type of oestrogen therapy — for approximately five years, while the others had received a placebo.

The researchers, in the paper published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, collected saliva to measure the women’s levels of cortisol, oestrogen, and progesterone.

They also ran a test of working memory called a “sentence span task”, in which the women were each given a series and then asked whether each sentence made sense. They also were asked to recall the last word of each one.

While women receiving oestrogen therapy had a smaller increase in cortisol and showed no decrease in working memory function, even after being exposed to stressful situation, those taking the placebo experienced a spike in cortisol levels as well as demonstrated a decrease in working memory function.

Previous studies have pointed to potential health risks — the Ahigher risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots — of the treatment.

Thus, Herrera noted that “hormone replacement therapy may not be right for every woman, but women need to be able to have the conversation with their doctors”.(IANS)