World Breastfeeding Week: Malnutrition causes one third of deaths among children

August 5, 2014 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated from 1 to 7 August 2014 in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. Malnutrition is responsible, directly or indirectly for about one third of deaths among children under five. Well above two thirds of these deaths, often associated with inappropriate feeding practices, occur during the first year of life.

Nutrition and nurturing during the first years of life are both crucial for life-long health and well-being. In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding; yet barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.

The World Health Organization recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.

Promoting sound feeding practices is one of the main programme areas that the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development focuses on. Activities include the production of sound, evidence-based technical information, development of guidelines and counselling courses, provision of guidance for the protection, promotion and support of infant and young child feeding at policy, health service and community levels, production of appropriate indicators and maintenance of a Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding.

Breastfeeding is the ideal food for newborns and infants, providing them with all the nutrients they need for healthy development. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, babies should be introduced to mashed solid foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two or later.

Breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

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