Breastfeeding of babies within an hour of birth has doubled in Rajasthan in the last ten years, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data.
From 13.3% in 2005-06 as per NFHS-3, the number of mothers nursing their newborns rose to 28.9% as per the NFHS-4.
While the figures were 28.9% in rural areas, they were 26.6% in urban areas, director of Reproductive and Child Health, Dr V K Mathur said, citing the data, at National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme here on Saturday.
Mathur said that MAA (Mothers’ Absolute Affection) was launched in Rajasthan in August this year to ensure adequate awareness among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding.
Listing the benefits of breastfeeding, he said if done from within an hour up to two years exclusively, it can avert 12% of all deaths in children under five years of age, besides making them less susceptible to diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Studies have proved that breastfeeding helps arrest infant mortality rate and also helps fight malnutrition and is the cheapest intervention, he added.
Mathur said accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and other healthcare personnel are creating awareness about breastfeeding at community level and at health centres to lactating mothers and their family members.
On breastfeeding percentage not matching with institutional deliveries which is 83% as per health department, Mahur said there were strong “social and traditional beliefs” that were still prevalent among people, depriving the babies of their mother’s milk soon after birth.
He also noted that problems like suckling problem, in which the newborn is unable to suck, and others are responsible for the contrasting numbers, and assured that all efforts were being taken to match them.
The NFHS-4 also stated that exclusively breastfed children, under the age of six years, too have increased to 58.2% from 33.2% in NFHS-3 (2005-06).
Children aged 6-8 months receiving solid or semi-solid foods and breast milk was 30.1%, down from 38.7% ten years back.
The number of breastfed children, aged 6-23 months, receiving adequate diet was 3.4% and that of non-breastfed children in the same age group, receiving adequate diet was 3.7%, the survey said.