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India Ranks Lowest In Breastfeeding Practices In South-East Asia

Anjali Nayyar
3 min read

India Ranks Lowest In Breastfeeding Practices In South-East Asia

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The second most populated country in the world, and we still cannot match the breastfeeding practices in other much smaller countries? This is disappointing!

Reportedly, India loses billions of children due to poor breastfeeding practices. According to UNICEF and WHO, countries such as India, along with China, Mexico, Nigeria, and Indonesia, account for more than 2,00,000 child deaths every year, and only because of insufficient breastfeeding. A worrisome fact indeed!

It has been observed that less than half the infant population of India is fortunate enough to get breastfed within an hour of birth. Doctors advise that infants should only be breastfed for 6 months. But how many mothers follow this advice? Not the city moms! “Early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding can prevent nearly 99,499 deaths of children every year due to diarrhoea and pneumonia”, reports a leading newspaper.

Why is breastfeeding so important? Here is what Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, has to say – "Breastmilk works like a baby's first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive." Dr Indu Taneja, senior consultant (obstetrics and gynaecology) at Fortis, advises mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months. She points out that breastfeeding not only protects the child, but also protects the mother from breast cancer and obesity.

In rural areas, upmarket baby-feeds aren’t readily available. Also, too many choices of ‘nutritious’ baby food have flooded the market. But, as always, man-made doesn’t stand a chance against nature-made – mother’s milk is far superior to commercial milk powders.

A major cause for the drop in breastfeeding rates is the fact that a lot of mothers work, and do not have that kind of time, to be able to exclusively breastfeed. There is hardly any investment or thought provided for infrastructure at workplaces for mothers to be able to breastfeed. The regressive attitudes of society, when a woman is breastfeeding in public, don’t help either.

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