‘Delaying breastfeeding 2-23 hrs after birth increases chances of child’s death’ – UNICEF

Samuel Luka, Bauchi

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that delaying breastfeeding by 2-23 hours after birth increases the risk of a baby dying in the first 28 days of his or her life by 40 per cent.

Philomena Irene, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist made this known during a Media Dialogue on breastfeeding week in Azare, Katagum local government area of Bauchi state Wednesday.

While speaking on a topic, ‘breast milk: the life preserving Super food for babies; trends in breastfeeding in Bauchi field office states, Irene said breast milk is affordable, accessible that every mother can afford.

Philomena Irene who said, well breastfed babies are healthier and have chances of becoming healthy teenagers and adults, further explained that there is reduction in delinquency and other
psychosocial problems in such children.

She said breastfeeding protects the environment against been littered with infant food containers as well as save cost in the production of feeds.

According to her, breastfeeding help economically by saving foreign exchange from importation of breast milk Substitutes (BMS) and feeding utensils, health costs and hospital trips.

She further explained that breastfeeding leads to decreased morbidity and mortality for children and
their mothers.

“Exclusive breastfeeding has the potential to save
more children’s lives than any other preventive intervention”, she said.

“Breastfed children have at least 6 times greater
chance of survival in the early months than non
breastfed children”, Irene added.

She further noted that an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child.

According to her, an estimated 13% of child deaths could be averted
if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed their infants for the first six months of life.

Irene who revealed that low Breastfeeding rates contribute to increased sickness, thereby incurring higher care and treatment costs, said that the production, packaging, storing, distribution and
preparation of infant formula contributes to
environmental damage and increased expenditure for

She appealed to the government to Create enabling environment for exclusive breastfeeding by enacting legislation on 6 months paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks & crèches.

She called for the enforcement and monitoring of compliance to the code of marketing of breast milk substitutes as well as allocate adequate funding for implementation of interventions to support breastfeeding.

On his part, the Executive chairman of Bauchi state Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Dr Rilwanu Mohammed said efforts are ongoing to formulate policies towards supporting nursing mothers with six months maternity leave to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.

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