By Eryn Bailey
Published August 21, 2010
Children who aren’t breast-fed are 10 times more likely to contract diarrhoea, ear aches, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and a number of other maladies that are otherwise avoidable with daily doses of mother’s milk.
Experts contend that breast milk is the most nutritious source of proteins, growth factors, and other infection-fighting ingredients for infants. Though cow’s milk could be used, its consumption is difficult for babies as their immune system is still developing.
There may be various systems and preventative measures in place to treat malnourished children. However, breast-feeding is by far the preferred vehicle for avoiding deadly infections to newborns and infants. Children who aren’t breast-fed are 10 times more likely to contract diarrhea, ear aches, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and a number of other maladies that are otherwise avoidable with daily doses of mother’s milk.
Christiane Rudert, Nutrition Specialist of UNICEF, says, “Children who aren’t breast fed are 14 times more likely to die in the first six months. One of the main reasons why UNICEF globally focuses on promoting breast feeding is because it’s essentially the best means of preventable intervention.”
Infant mortality and morbidity rates in developing countries may have declined since 1990. Asia and Africa account for 93 per cent deaths of children under five years old annually. These numbers can be decreased if best practices for breast-feeding were implemented.
Social and cultural barriers, such as lack of support in health care settings and at home, impede new mothers across the world from breast feeding. However, new measures and campaigns like WHO’s Ten Steps to Successful Breast Feeding, are educating women worldwide on techniques that will save children’s lives, as well as billions of dollars in health care costs across the globe.
In certain countries with vast populations of children orphaned by AIDS, additional measures need to be imposed to ensure the life and health of infants in these areas. The International Breast Milk Project (IBMP) donates breast milk from mothers in the U.S. to Duhan, South Africa. Some 5,000 ounces of breast milk are set to be shipped to Duhan with freezing and shipping service provided free of charge by Quick International Courier (QIC) in late August 2010. QIC freezes the breast milk for the entire trip from the U.S. to South Africa.
Amanda Nickerson of the IBMP says that one-third of the people in Duhan, South Africa are HIV positive. Hence, there are fewer donors in the area eligible to offer breast through a local donor bank.
However, the IBMP is a novel initiative with few partners that can produce and ship large quantities of donor breast milk to developing nations. Donor banks in developing countries are a rarity.
Rudert says WHO’s revised recommendation on breast-feeding and HIV infected mothers have recently changed. HIV infected mothers are still encouraged to exclusively breast-feed their babies for up to six months.
Prior to WHO revisions in 2010, exclusive feeding from HIV-infected mothers was suggested if other replacement feeding wasn’t available. Research shows that mother to infant transmission of HIV is low and antiretroviral therapy of either mother or infant is advised. Children of HIV-positive mothers will still receive the same amount of nutrients and protection from preventable infection as if they were feeding from HIV-negative mothers.
Formula or replacement feeding is a secondary option to breast-feeding that is more costly and less beneficial to both mother and child. Most women in impoverished nations can’t afford to solely provide formula feeding for their children. Hence, breast-feeding is necessary to ensure the child’s survival. Research of several studies compared the price difference between breast-feeding with ARVs and formula feeding; the former was much more cost effective.
A MediaGlobal Article