Less than 20% babies breast-fed in first hour of birth in 14 districts of UP: Survey
Less than 20% babies in 14 districts of UP get mother’s milk within the first hour of birth, reveals the National Family Health Survey-IV. Experts say such laxity has a direct connection with the immunity of the child against infections such as diarrhoea or pneumonia.Updated: Aug 04, 2017, 15:32 IST
Only 13 out of 100 newborns in Gonda (the district declared dirtiest in India in May) get their mother’s milk within the first hour of their life – far behind the state’s average of 25/100.
Less than 20% babies in 14 districts of UP get mother’s milk within the first hour of birth, reveals the National Family Health Survey-IV. Experts say such laxity has a direct connection with the immunity of the child against infections such as diarrhoea or pneumonia.
“Poor breastfeeding habits exist in the entire state as its average is 25%. But districts that have an average of below 20 need urgent and major focus,” said Dr Neelam Singh, health activist working in the field of female foeticide and girl child welfare.
Poor breastfeeding is a financial burden too, said experts. “Skipping first-hour breastfeeding makes the child vulnerable to infections while not having exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months hampers overall growth,” said Prof SP Jaiswar, senior faculty, King George’s Medical University (KGMU).
“Studies clearly say if one dollar is invested in breastfeeding programme it saves 35 dollars in terms of less diseases to mother and child both,” said Singh.
According to the Rapid Survey on Children 2013-2014, 50.4% of children in UP are stunted (they have low height for their age). Of these, 28.4% are severely stunted and 10% children are wasted (they have low weight for their height).
Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, after evaluating 194 nations, found that only 40% of children younger than six months are exclusively breastfed and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60%.
The investment case shows that in five of the world’s largest emerging economies – China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria –the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 2,36,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.
Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower and middle income countries spend approximately US$250 million on breastfeeding programs; and donors provide only an additional US$85 million.
Breastfeeding as soon as the baby is active. Experts say a child can be fed right at the time of birth.
“Breastfeeding can be started even before cutting the umbilical cord,” said Prof SP Jaiswar, adding: “If the baby is active and has been cleaned breastfeeding can start.” This is done by placing the baby in breastfeeding position, even with the umbilical cord intact.
She said studies have proved benefits of such breastfeeding. “When the baby starts sucking, it leads to release of oxytocin in the mother’s body that helps in contraction of uterus. Secondly, the baby’s immunity goes up instantly after getting mother’s milk.”
Thirdly, there is less blood loss after delivery which is beneficial for the mother. Also the third stage of delivery is less painful for the woman, as the uterus contracts faster.
“With early breastfeeding (as soon as before cutting the umbilical cord), the number of deaths due to post-partem (delivery) haemorage can be reduced particularly in villages, where deliveries still take place in underequipped places,” added Jaiswar.
Breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of many Sustainable Development Goals. It improves nutrition (SDG2), prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases (SDG3), says studies.