3 in 5 babies not breastfed in 1st hour of birth

Leslie Hanson
August 1, 2018

"Authors noted that although improvements have been made in the number of infants breasted in low- and middle-income countries - 37 percent in 2005 vs. 42 percent in 2017 - there is significant room for improvement..."

It is recommended that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with nutritionally safe and sufficient solid foods being incorporated into their diet at this time point, and for breastfeeding to continue for up to two years in order for babies to reach optimal health, growth, and development. "When breastfeeding is delayed after birth, the consequences can be life-threatening - and the longer newborns are left waiting, the greater the risk".

Skin-to-skin contact helps to kick-start the production of breastmilk, which in the first few days following an infant's birth contains colostrum.

"The India data points to the fact that the breastfeeding initiation within an hour after birth has nearly doubled in India, increasing from 23.1 per cent in 2005 to 41.5 per cent in 2015", the report said.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, in her message on the World Breastfeeding Week, said: "When it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything".

"Each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons, all too often, are things we can change", she said.

"Mothers simply don't receive enough support to breastfeeding within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities".


It says 65 per cent of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have the highest rate of breastfeeding within the first hour, while East Asia and the Pacific have the lowest rate with only 32 percent benefitting from the early initiation. Just 41.5 percent of newborns in India are breastfed within an hour of being born. By contrast, only two in 10 babies born in Azerbaijan, Chad and Montenegro do so. In addition to being a vital part of nutrition, breastfeeding supplies babies with antibodies to protect them from childhood illness and it supports long-term health, well into adolescence and adulthood. Among 51 countries, early initiation of breastfeeding is significantly lower among newborns delivered by C-section.

While it is now less than 1%, the trend suggested that as the number of educated mothers that are breastfeeding their babies within one hour of birth reduces, the trend among those with no or minimal education would either stabilize or continue to rise.

Gaps in the quality of care provided to mothers and newborns: The presence of a skilled birth attendant does not seem to affect rates of early breastfeeding, according to the report.

Despite not having data on breastfeeding mothers in the US and Europe, WHO researchers estimated that 2.6 million children, or 21 percent, in these high-income countries are not breast fed.

The report urges governments and other decision-makers to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes to help address the situation.

Breastfeeding is particularly important for families who do not have easy access to basic amenities like clean water and healthcare, according to the WHO.

Not all women are able to breastfeed their infants, but for those who can, this combined feeding and bonding process can provide newborns with the flawless foundation for the rest of their lives.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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