Tag Archives: Infant

Save the Children Releases Important New Breastfeeding Report

SUPERFOOD-COVERSave the Children released a brand-new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies, that says 830,000 babies’ lives can be saved worldwide if they are breastfed within the critical first hour after birth. In the first hour after birth babies benefit from drinking colostrum, the most effective and potent natural immune system boosting substance on the planet. Babies who are breastfed within the very first hour after birth are three times more likely to survive than if they are breastfed a day after birth.

Breastfeeding is critical to the survival of children in the world’s most income poor countries. More importantly, immediate breastfeeding is unquestioningly crucial to a baby’s survival.

Mothers at Health Center, Ethiopia

While advocating for mothers to breastfeed within the first hour after delivering their babies sounds easy enough, breastfeeding rates have stagnated and only 40% of mothers breastfeed globally. Save the Children has documented four barriers that hinder mothers’ ability to breastfeed exclusively at least for the first six months of life.

Four Major Barriers to Immediate Breastfeeding

1. Cultural and community pressure – Even though breastfeeding is one of the most natural gifts a mother can give her child cultural customs prevent some mothers from immediate and sustained breastfeeding. For example, in India some believe the first milk, colostrum, should be expressed out of a mother’s breast before breastfeeding. That said, some customs are detrimental to the health of babies and their survival.

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2. Global health worker shortage – Across the developing world, there is a major shortage of frontline health workers that must be addressed. When health workers help deliver a baby, a mother is two times more likely to breastfeed during the first hour after delivery than when giving birth without a skilled birth attendant.

3. Lack of maternity legislation – Women in most low-income countries do not benefit from protections and legislation to help them breastfeed. Out of the 36 low-income countries that Save the Children looked at, Vietnam was the only country that provided adequate maternity leave (6 weeks).

4. Aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes – The global baby food market is currently worth $36 billion meaning that mothers are often aggressively marketed to to buy their products, especially breast-milk substitutes. In Save the Children’s China survey – 40% of mothers interviewed had been contacted directly by baby food company representatives. Additionally, in Pakistan, 1/3 of health professionals said they’d been visiting by a representative of breast-milk substitute companies and 1/10 of health professionals said their health facility had received free samples of formula, nipple or bottles, according to the report.

Nestlé and Danone own the lion share of the breast-milk substitute market. The poster below was snapped in a maternity ward in an Ethiopian hospital. What is particularly bad about this advertisement is it was in the NICU.

Formula Marketing in Bishoftu Hospital

In Superfood for Babies Save the Children also found that women who are uneducated are 19% more likely to not initiate breastfeeding and 13% less likely to sustain breastfeeding with their babies. Those who are most uneducated tend to rely on traditional customs and those who have more education tend to be a part of the workforce and have increased opportunity to see formula marketing and also tend to have low breastfeeding numbers.

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Brazil – An Example in Reducing Child Mortality through Increasing Breastfeeding

Brazil has cut infant mortality by 50% over the past twenty years through an emphasis on breastfeeding. Every maternity hospital in Brazil has a human milk bank. Isla Fisher traveled to Brazil with Save the Children to document the amazing progress of the nation.

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Call to Action

Save the Children is urging everyone who believes in increased child health to sign a petition urging new Secretary of State John Kerry to fight for newborn nutrition and the renewal of the 1,000 Days Call to Action that is set to expire in a few, short months. Visit savethechildren.org/superfood to make your voice heard.

Photos: Mom Bloggers for Social Good/ Jennifer James

Exclusive Breastfeeding Increases in Kenya

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life is what will keep her the most healthy. There is good news out of Kenya. Exclusive breastfeeding has increased to 32% from a mere 13% in 2003. Exclusive breastfeeding helps keep babies healthy and it also provides a buffer for mother to child HIV transmission by four times.

In September Kenya passed a new law regarding advertising infant formula particularly in health settings. Health workers are also no longer allowed to receive kickbacks in any form from formula companies. This is very important because of the influence health workers have on their patients. The new law regarding health workers includes forbids the following.

A health worker or a proprietor shall not:

a) accept from a manufacturer or a distributor of a designated or complementary food product –

(i) a gift;

(ii) financial assistance;

(iii) fellowship, scholarship, research grant, study tour, funding for meetings and conferences, seminars or continuing education courses; or

(iv) sample of a designated or complementary food product;

(b) distribute or display a designated or complementary food product; or

(c) demonstrate the use of a designated or complementary food product to mothers or members of their families unless in such special cases of need as may be determined by the Cabinet Secretary or his representative, in writing.

The new law also requires formula packaging to include appropriate risks of using formula. We cannot forget that having access to clean water is also an issue in Kenya, so using formula for a baby can potentially be life threatening.

According to WHO data the northeastern part of Kenya sees the largest percentage of exclusive breastfeeding through six months. The coastal part of Kenya logs the smallest percentage of exclusive breastfeeding.

In addition to increased exclusive breastfeeding, Kenya is also seeing an increase in babies breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery. According to World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative in Kenya (2012) KDHS shows an improvement on the percentage of babies’ breastfed within one hour of birth from 52.3% (2003) to 58.1% (2008/09). However, this indicator has stagnated between 52% and 58% since 1993 with 2003 registering the lowest prevalence.

To learn more about Kenya’s exclusive breastfeeding increase visit www.irinnews.org.

Photo: United Nations/ Photo by Albert González Farran