Breastfeeding: A key component to achieving SDG – UNICEF

By ALEX UANGBAOJE, kaduna

Chief of Field Office, United Nations Children Educational Fund (UNICEF) Kaduna, Utpal Moitra has emphasized that for a country to develop, infant and young child feeding is a key component to a Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) of that nation.

The UNICEF while briefing media as part of activity to mark World Breastfeeding Week in Kaduna on Monday.

Moitra explained that, one of the objectives of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebration is to engage and collaborate with stakeholders, including the media to put together a variety of actions on breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

“Initiation of breastfeeding within 30 minutes after birth saves mothers from the risk of postpartum heamorrage and maternal death and exclusive breastfeeding on demand in the first 6 months of live without water or any other food starts every baby on healthy path in life, providing all the nutrients the baby requires for optimum growth and development.

“Breastfeeding is environmentally/ecologically friendly, its economical, supports household food security and serves as a major method of child spacing for up to 80 percent of mothers.

“Breastfeeding enhances productivity and contributes to breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, poverty and low productivity at household community and national levels.

“Breastfeeding is a platform for equity with both boys and girls started right with breastfeeding with equal chances of survival, productivity, empowerment and wellbeing later in life.

“The feeding of the colostrum serves the first immunization against a host of diseases the mother must have been exposed to while continuing breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond with appropriate complementary feeding supports optimal health, psychosocial and cognitive development with higher Intelligence Quotient and mental development.

“Breastfeeding is safe, not easily contaminated, prevents diarrhea, asthma and other forms of allergies, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in both mother and child and non-communicable diseases including diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases later in life.

“Breast milk provides 100 percent of the nutrients required at 0-6 months, 50 percent of the nutrients required at 6-12 months and 1/3 of the requirements between 12 and 14 months,” Chief of Field Office said.

Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, Dr, Florence Oni in her presentation said the consequences of lack of breastfeeding are enormous.

According to her, nutrition situation in Nigeria accounts for more than 50 percent of under-five deaths. This are poor infant feeding practices, energy and protein deficiencies, vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Others include; Iron deficiency Anaemia (IDA), Iodine deficiency Disorders (IDD); and Zinc deficiency.

Dr. Oni explained why exclusively breastfed babies do not need water as breast milk is 88 percent water; pointing out that giving water to babies can be harmful and cause diarrhea and illness.

“Exclusive breastfeeding means giving only breast milk. This means no other milks, water, liquids, teas, herbal preparations, or foods, not even sips if water (except for medicines prescribed by a doctor or nurse).

“Every time a mother breastfeeds, she gives her baby water through her breast milk. If a mother thinks her baby is thirsty, she should breastfeed immediately. This will give the baby all the water that is needed. The more often a woman breastfeeds, the more breast milk is produced, which means more water for the baby.

“Breast milk has everything a baby needs to quench thirst and satisfy hunger. It is the best possible food and drink that can be offered a baby so the baby will grow to be strong and healthy.

“An infant’s stomach is small. When the baby drinks water, there is less room left for the nourishing breast milk that is necessary for the infant to grow strong and healthy,” she said.

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