Thursday, January 17, 2019 | ePaper
Experts for breastfeeding to maintain nutritional status of children
Breastfeeding must be continued up to two years for babies to ensure both their physical and cognitive development, health experts told BSS.
Alongside continuation of breastfeeding, complimentary feeding should be introduced to children after completion of 6 months of age, they added.
Chairperson of Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation Dr SK Roy said, "We found that nutritional status was normal and trend of illness was very low among the children who are given exclusive breast- feeding. On the other hand, children who are not exclusively breastfed were affected by different diseases including diarrhea and pneumonia."
Terming breastfeeding as the safe food for children, he said children can easily digest it and it helps ensure proper mental and physical growth with reducing the chance of illness.
Lack of knowledge and awareness on breastfeeding and supplementary food lead to malnutrition among under-five children, Dr Roy said adding breastfeeding should be maintained from first hour of children up to two years side by side properly cooked complementary food for maintaining nutritional status of under-five children.
Dr Roy said after delivery, every mother should be given nutritious food so that they can give adequate breast milk to her child.
Nutrition of children under five is a comprehensive issue, he said adding, "We cannot expect a healthy child without ensuring a healthy mother".
Dr Rukhsana Haider, chairperson of Training and Assistance for Health and Nutrition Foundation (THAN), said early initiation of breastfeeding meaning to provide breast milk to infant within one hour of birth will ensure their healthy growth alongside enhancing the immune system of the body.
"Infants should be given first breast milk (colostrum), which is rich in antibodies and contains a larger percentage of protein, minerals and fat soluble vitamin than mature milk," she added.
"Generally, colostrum (first breast milk) is available up to five days after giving birth of a child. Sometimes it exists up to three days. So, we should feed colostrum to our children within one hour of their births," she added.
Dr Rukhsana, also co-chair of World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), said feeding of first breast milk should not be ignored as it is the first immunization for children, which protects them from many diseases. Feeding colostrum to infants has long-term health benefits, she added.
Breast milk is the ideal food for infants and an important part of diet of young children, she said, adding intervention to protect and promote early breastfeeding can greatly improve child survival, averting their deaths.
"Breastfeeding helps prevent dehydration. Optimum breastfeeding practices also improve cognitive, motor and socio-emotional development as well as learning capacity," Dr Ruksana added.