KARNATAKA

Breastfeed infants to save them from diseases

GULBARGA, AUG.1. The Secretary of the Karnataka Chapter of the National Neo-Natalogy Forum, S.W. Srikant, said today that the lives of more than three lakh children could be saved each year in India through continued exclusive breastfeeding.

Delivering a special lecture on the occasion of World Breast Feeding Day, observed jointly by the forum, the Indian Child Specialist Association, M.R. Medical College, and various other organisations, Dr. Srikant said that according to recent studies, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding for six to 11 months could avert around 13 to 15 per cent deaths in children under five years of age in India.

Breast milk essential

He pointed out that the children who were not breastfed till the age of five months were seven times more likely to die from diarrhoea and five times more likely to die from pneumonia compared to infants who are exclusively breastfed.

In the same age group, children who were also given food other than breast milk, were twice as likely to die of diarrhoea or pneumonia.

Dr. Srikant said that babies receiving only breast milk for the first six months show a faster development of the immune system.

Breastfeeding should continue for at least two years, along with other food, he said.

Unfortunately, in India, exclusive breastfeeding was rare, and this year's "World Breastfeeding Week" aimed at creating awareness among the young about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Targets

The first target before the Government was to increase the rate of initiation of breastfeeding within one hour to 50 per cent from the current 15.8 per cent, and to increase the exclusive feeding rate to 80 per cent during the first six months from the current 41 per cent.

Dr. Srikant said that exclusive breastfeeding helps the newborn baby, as it is the first source of immunising the child and reducing the risk of allergic reactions such as asthma.

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