August 1, 2010: On the commencement of the World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), experts say that if all babies are breast fed within an hour of birth, thousands of neo-natal deaths can be reduced in the state. While a meagre 24.6 per cent of women are doing this in AP according to a study done by Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India (BFPNI), specialists say that the considerable rise in caesarean deliveries in the recent past has made this a more difficult proposition.
"In a vaginal delivery, a mother can breast feed immediately but in case of caesarean deliveries, only to come out of anaesthesia it takes three to four hours," said Dr K Krishna Swaroop, senior paediatrician. He further said that colostrum, the first milk, is a vital factor in preventing common illnesses including diarrhoea and respiratory tract infection, ear and urinary tract infections for the baby.
For the mother, breast feeding can not only reduce her risk for blood loss post delivery but also infectious diseases, breast and ovarian cancer and iron deficiency. "They also return back to pre-pregnancy shape and weight quicker if they breast feed," said Dr Swaroop.
But the statistics are far from what the doctors recommend. According to BFPNI study, AP stands in the 19th position in the country when it comes to initiation of breast feeding. Subsequently, in the category of exclusive breast feeding for six months, which the World Health Organisation recommends, AP stands third with 62.7 per cent mothers doing it. "Because of the old beliefs, new mothers are dissuaded from immediately feeding the baby by their elders. This apart, after caesarean, they feel that the drugs they take might cause problem to the baby but this is a myth," said Dr G Shailaja, a senior gynaecologist, who frequently comes across such cases.
Doctors said that mother’s milk has got the right proportion of nutrients like water, proteins, carbohydrates, cholesterol and antibodies. Secondly, it is easily digestible as against the formula milk and breast fed babies are less likely to be obese in later life. They suggest hospitals and other health care services to train health workers who can help mothers start breast feeding at the appropriate time in the right way.
As per the National Family Health Survey 3, infant mortality in the state is 54 deaths before the child reaches the age of one year per 1,000 live births.
Courtesy: Times of India