Delayed breastfeeding putting babies at risk – UNICEF

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United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says about 78 billion babies globally or three in five newborns are not breastfed within the first hour of life, putting them at a higher risk of death and diseases.
According to a report by UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO), newborns who are breastfed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive.
Malawi women

9 percent of children under 6 months in Malawi consume plain water-UNICEF.(File image)

The organisations however noted that even a delay of a few hours after birth is life threatening.

The report indicated that 9 percent of children under 6 months in Malawi consume plain water, 3 percent consume no milk liquid while 2 percent consume other milk and 18 percent consume complete foods in addition to breast milk.

Although it is the case, the report showed that breastfeeding rates within the first hour are highest in the eastern and Southern Africa (65%) and lowest in East Asia and Pacific (32%).
“Breast milk alone is sufficient and beneficial for a baby to survive the first 6 months of life in Malawi, the number of children who are exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months has gone down from 71% to 61% in 2016 DHS,” the report says.
According to the report, breastfeeding gives every child the healthiest start to life and it is a baby’s vaccine and the best source of nutrition which has a potential of bolstering brain development.
UNICEF also ran a poll in SMS poling U-report to assess the knowledge and opinions of young people on the same.

According to the findings, 96% of U-report respondents said breastfeeding is important for children to be healthy and 57 percent of them know that children should be breastfed until the age of two while 66 percent of the U-reporters knows that the children should start complementary food in addition to milk when they reach 6 months.

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