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Breastfeeding

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    20th Aug, 2019

A report-card on the practice of breastfeeding has been released recently by the Union Health Ministry.

Context

A report-card on the practice of breastfeeding has been released recently by the Union Health Ministry.

About

  • Breastfeeding is a cornerstone for child survival and health especially during early life because it provides essential irreplaceable nutrition for a child’s growth and development.
  • It serves as a child’s first immunization - providing protection from common childhood illnesses, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, few of the leading causes of under-five mortality.
  • Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development and is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers.

Report findings

  • Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Punjab fare the worst when it comes to the practice of breastfeeding.
  • These states have the lowest rate for breastfeeding within one hour of birth, exclusive breast feeding for six months and complementary breastfeeding from six to nine months.
  • Inadequate breastfeeding puts a huge burden on our health system and we understand that there is an urgent need to ensure a conducive environment for all mothers to practice breastfeeding at home, outside homes and workplaces.
  • States that top the report card include Mizoram, Sikkim, Odisha and Manipur.
  • These regions also show good indicators in terms of the other parameters where children are breast fed exclusively for six months etc.
  • Breastfeeding is one of the most cost-effective intervention which addresses both survival and growth of the child. Early initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth can prevent neonatal mortality; whereas exclusive breastfeeding for six months can reduce under-five deaths significantly.
  • Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment.
  • Health Ministry will be carrying out activities to promote breastfeeding by creating awareness about its multi-fold benefits from 1st to 7th of every month till 2022.

Important Facts

  • Taj Mahal is the first Indian monument with breastfeeding room.
  • Globally, only 40% infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
  • The World Health Organisation says that if breastfeeding was scaled up to near-universal levels, lives of about 8,20,000 children could be saved every year.
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