Department of Health 21/08/2019 - 11:21
Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months without any formula have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea, that’s according to Steve Biko Academic Hospital nurse, Sister Knoetze.”
Sister Knoetze gave this advice to community members and hospital staff as part of World Breastfeeding Week, which is observed annually from the 1-7 August each year. The Steve Biko Academic Hospital commemorated the breastfeeding week on 16 August 2019 with an aim to encourage the importance of breastfeeding for the first six months for both mom and baby.
“Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for infants. It has a mixture of vitamins, protein, and fat, everything a baby needs to grow, and it's all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula,” sister Knoetze.
She added that: “Breast milk contains antibodies that help a baby fight off viruses and bacteria; it decreases a baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Also, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea.”
Furthermore, breastfeeding protects mother from breast and uterine cancer, diabetes and postpartum depression. Breastfeeding also protects infants from obesity-related illnesses, diabetes and increases the IQ.
World Breastfeeding Week is commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children Fund, and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
According WHO Breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. “Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800 000 lives every year, the majority being children under six months. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20 000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer,” says WHO.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.
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