Kolkata doctor urges exclusive breastfeeding for newborns for six months; sounds alert against unscrupulous advertisement

Kolkata doctor urges exclusive breastfeeding for newborns for six months; sounds alert against unscrupulous advertisement

Sudipto Maity | @maightyman | 14 Sep 2018

Kolkata, Sept 14 (IBNS): A Kolkata doctor has urged mothers to breast feed their newborns exclusively for six months, while sounding alert against unscrupulous and misleading advertisement.

Speaking at an event organised by the UNICEF in Kolkata, senior doctor Parbati Sengupta said that a child should be breast fed for at least two years, to keep diseases at bay.

She added that the child be fed only mother’s milk for a period of six months from his/her birth and then sparingly for the remaining months up to two years or 24 months old.

Stating that the child should decide when to forego the practice, Sengupta said: Breastfeeding is an invisible umbilical cord. Unlike the umbilical cord, you cannot sever it physically, only the child can decide when he or she wants to let it go.”

Mohammad Mohiuddin, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF India said: "I'm urging the media to come forward and make the community aware."


Why breastfeeding?

Apart from preventing diseases, breast milk also helps fight malnutrition and reduces Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and several forms of cancer.

Lack of breastfeeding may also lead to irreversible damage within a child’s body, which may not be visible from the outside.

Contrary to popular advertisement by health drink companies, a child’s brain develops by the time he/she reaches 24 months (two years) and not six years.

“It is your (media) job to create the awareness about such hoax,” Sengupta said, adding, “Don’t give false hopes and assurances. Abstain from doing so.”

She also urged the media to to take help of the Infant Milk Substitutes Act.

The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Act 1992 and its 2003 amendment reads: No person should advertise, promote or mislead people to believe that infant food, feeding bottles and infant milk substitutes are an acceptable replacement of mother's milk. No person can distribute or supply infant food, feeding bottles and infant milk substitutes, or contact any expecting mother or mother of an infant, or offer inducement in an attempt to sell or promote infant food, feeding bottles and infant milk substitutes. No person shall donate or distribute infant food, feeding bottles and infant milk substitutes or any material regarding the same, except the health system.

It states: Under this act, companies can also be charged for an offence, by charging all those who were aware of the violation and are in a position of responsibility. Offences under this act are bailable and cognizable. Lastly the act provides that no case can be levied against a government or government worker for acting in good faith to uphold the provisions of the act.


Recommendation

Sengupta recommended that a newborn be breastfed within one hour of birth.

“Why one hour? This is because the child is most active during that period. So, make use of it,” the doctor added.

Practice exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months of age and complementary breastfeeding along with other foods from six to 23 months. The enzymes in the body, after six months of age, start to mature, rendering breastmilk insufficient as the sole food source.

Sustain breastfeeding upto 2 years of age and beyond.

The doctor recommended that an HIV +ve mother be sensitized to choose infant feeding option most suitable to her and the family members to support her decision.


World statistics

Statistics says that despite such advisory, 3 out of 5 newborns are not breastfed within the first hour.

Around 50 percent of the babies are not exclusively breastfed for at least six months.

90 percent of the children are not given the minimum diet along with breast milk after six months.

When asked what might lead to such figures, she pointed at apathy and the lack of knowledge as the reasons why so few mothers stuck to the right practices.


West Bengal way ahead, but…

Keeping in mind almost all the parametres that governs a healthy breastfeeding practice, the state of West Bengal is well ahead of the national average; however, it too needs to pull its socks in certain areas.

In the criteria of exclusive breastfeeding for six months, according to the fourth edition of National Family health Survey (2014-2015) (NFHS 4), the state has recorded figures of 52.3 percentage against a national average of 55 percent.

What is baffling is that the percentage was much higher during NFHS 3, which took place in 2005-2006.

While India registered 46 percent, West Bengal’s score stood at 58.6 percent.


(Reporting by Sudipto Maity)

 

Kolkata doctor urges exclusive breastfeeding for newborns for six months; sounds alert against unscrupulous advertisement

Sudipto Maity
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