The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning mothers all over that not breastfeeding within an hour of birth causes the exposure of babies to multiple risks including death, thus breast milk being considered the best first vaccine for children.
The agency highlights that delaying breastfeeding by even several hours can cause serious problems to the children in their first days of life, but, most importantly, delaying breastfeeding by more than 24 hours will significantly increase the risk of dying by 40 percent in the first 28 days of life. Having the baby close to you while you breastfeed provides him the nutrients and antibodies needed, and the proximity to the mother is considered to be the best protection from disease.
In many other countries, it is a custom to feed the newborn sugar water or cow’s milk in the first days of life which is one of the biggest reasons early breastfeeding is delayed.
UNICEF also added that babies that are given less notorious alternatives to breast milk make it harder for mothers to start breastfeeding. Globally, not more that 43 percent of infants, aged under six months old are exclusively breastfed.
In North Africa, South Asia or the Middle East, women who deliver their babies with relatives or unskilled birth attendants, are more likely to breastfeed in the first hour of life than those who deliver with skilled birth attendants. Since 2000 the rates of early breastfeeding has increased by more than 10 percent in Southern and Eastern Africa, but it remained unchanged in West and Central Africa.
Also, in South Asia from 2000 to 2015, the rates of early breastfeeding initiation have tripled from 15 percent to 45 percent, but it still is considered far from enough taking into account the fact that 21 million newborns are waiting too long before getting all the nutrients they need from breast milk.
Another study was shown that babies that are fed only breast milk are 14 times less likely to die that those who have not been breastfed, thus significantly reducing the child’s risk of catching an infection.
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