Tuesday January 21, 2020

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.

Next Story

Diabetes is an Independent Risk Factor For Heart Failure: Study

According to health expert in India, if poorly controlled, diabetes leads to cardiomyopathy resulting in progressive deterioration of pumping capacity of heart

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Diabetes
The study shows that diabetes is an independent risk factor for the development of heart failure in the community dwelling population. Pixabay

Heart problems are a common development for people with diabetes and now researchers have found that diabetes is an independent risk factor for the development of heart failure in the community dwelling population.

According to health expert in India, if poorly controlled, diabetes leads to cardiomyopathy resulting in progressive deterioration of pumping capacity of heart.

“Diabetes is also a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and this eventually leads to blockage of coronary arteries. This leads to heart attack or myocardial infarction,” Satish Koul, HOD and Director Internal Medicine, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS. “Due to myocardial infarction, the heart muscle becomes weak and eventually heart fails as a pump leading to congestive heart failure,” Koul added.

According to the current study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers evaluated the long-term impact of diabetes on the development of heart failure, both with preserved ejection fraction – a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving the heart with each contraction – and reduced ejection fraction. They also looked at mortality in a community population, controlling for hypertension, coronary artery disease and diastolic function.

From an initial group of 2,042 residents of Olmsted County in US, 116 study participants with diabetes were matched 1:2 for age, hypertension, sex, coronary artery disease and diastolic dysfunction to 232 participants without diabetes.

Over the 10-year follow-up period, 21 per cent of participants with diabetes developed heart failure, independent of other causes.

Diabetes
Heart problems are a common development for people with diabetes and now researchers have found that diabetes is an independent risk factor for the development of heart failure in the community dwelling population. Pixabay

In comparison, only 12 per cent of patients without diabetes developed heart failure. Cardiac death, heart attack and stroke were not statistically different in the study between the two groups.

The study shows that diabetes is an independent risk factor for the development of heart failure in the community dwelling population. Furthermore, the outcome data support the concept of a diabetic cardiomyopathy.

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This research extends previous findings and demonstrates that even without a known cardiac structural abnormality and with a normal ejection fraction, diabetic patients are still at increased risk of developing heart failure as compared to their nondiabetic counterparts. (IANS)