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Talks to reduce infant mortality

- Breastfeeding Week celebrations

Unicef and Indian Society of Perinatology and Reproductive Biology on Sunday jointly organised a workshop here on infant and young child feeding practices to mark World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated every first week of August globally.

The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding — A Winning Goal for Life” and focuses on how to reduce infant mortality through breastfeeding.

Several doctors attended the workshop, which aims to orient all the Society members on the four key messages related to infant and young child feeding practices — early initiation of breastfeeding immediately after birth, preferably within one hour, exclusive breastfeeding for the six months, timely introduction of complementary feeding after the age of six months and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond.

In her inaugural speech, Society president Manju Geeta Mishra said: “Every parent wishes that his/her child born is healthy and remains so after birth. However, it is a million-dollar question as to how the child born remains healthy. The key lies in breastfeeding. Parents as well as doctors must know that the initial 1,000 days of a child’s life is crucial. This includes the period of nine months of pregnancy (270 days) and two years after birth (730 days).”

“Every mother must ensure that her child is initiated to breastfeeding within one hour of birth as initial breastfeeding helps a child fight against diseases. Breast milk stimulates the immune system of babies containing hundreds of life-enhancing molecules which protects babies from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections. Additionally, early and exclusive breastfeeding of a child for the first six-months is proven to be beneficial for mothers too. The next six months the child should be kept on breastfeeding alone while from seventh month he should be given food along with mother’s milk, which should continue till he attains the age of two years,” Mishra added.

The neonatal mortality rate, which stands at 31 per thousand, accounts for 50 per cent of all childhood deaths in Bihar. A large number of infant deaths in the state is attributed to absence of early breastfeeding.