Only 56.6 % children below 6 months in Maharashtra are exclusively breastfed

Breast-milk is the lifeline of a newborn since it is rich in essential nutrients that builds the child’s immunity and promotes sensory and cognitive development.

Umesh Isalkar | TNN
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PUNE: Breastfeeding rates remain unsatisfactory for infants below six months in Maharashtra. As per the latest data by the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS), only 4% increase has been recorded in the past decade in breastfeeding rates.

“Breast-milk is the lifeline of a newborn since it is rich in essential nutrients that builds the child’s immunity and promotes sensory and cognitive development. It is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants and no formula food can substitute it. Apart from the child, breastfeeding has important benefits for the health of mothers,” said gynaecologist Bhavana Mangal of Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune.

As per World Health Organisation, if every child is breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with other food up to the age of two years, about 220,000 child lives would be saved every year.

“Breastfeeding children within an hour of their birth allow them access to colostrum, the first breast milk that is rich in antibodies. With adequate breastfeeding, children develop better immunity against diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and anaemia,” said hospital’s another gynaecologist Madhuri Laha.

Breast-milk is rich in prebiotic human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) which are structurally complicated sugar molecules unique to human breast milk and helps in the development of the infant gut microbiota that ensures immunity against allergic diseases.

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