Every year from 1-7 August marks the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), a week set aside to draw attention to the importance and benefits of breastfeeding.
‘World Health Organization (WHO) recommends, babies should be exclusively breastfed for first six months and continue up to two years or beyond to give them a healthy start to life.
it is estimated that infants between one and six months not exclusively breastfed have seven times the risk of dying from diarrhea and five times the risk of dying from pneumonia.
Breast milk has lots of digestive enzymes and also many hormones. These all contribute to the baby’s well-being. Breastfeeding may also play a role in preventing digestive diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, as well as childhood cancers.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria, lower risk of asthma or allergies. Breastfeeding is a chance for the mother and the baby to connect, and also a way of calming a baby in a stressful situation.
Each breastfeeding mother delivers millions of living white blood cells to the baby to help fight off all kinds of diseases.
Breastfeeding prevents obesity. Formula-fed babies are more likely to be obese during adolescence. Longer periods of breastfeeding greatly reduce the risk of overweight in adulthood according to report.
Bottle-fed infants and children have more and more severe upper respiratory infections, wheezing, pneumonia and influenza. They have more diarrhea, more gastrointestinal infections and constipation compared to their breastfed counterparts.
Formula-fed babies have a raised risk of heart disease, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma and allergy.
‘Infants who are not breastfed have an increased risk of suffering from infectious morbidity, as well as childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
For mothers, failure to breastfeed is associated with an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and metabolic syndrome.
Supplementing breastfeeding with formula is usually discouraged, although it may be helpful in cases where the mother is sick or planning to get back to work within six months of the baby’s birth.
Too much dependence on formula puts a baby at an increased risk of diarrhea, respiratory infection, and malnutrition due to an inappropriate amount of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Formulas are also higher in salt content and lower in calcium that can lead to allergy, milk intolerance, chronic diseases, obesity, lower scores in IQ tests. Formula feeding is associated with adverse health outcomes for both mothers and infants.
Nursing mothers need to breastfeed their babies in order to complement government’s effort of reducing infant mortality rate in the country.