Ignorance and breastfeeding beliefs threaten 70% of newborns in Nigeria

The dataset released by UNICEF also showed that Nigeria made the greatest leap in the number of newborns that were breastfed within one of delivery between 2007 and 2008 when the figures increased by 4.8% for babies delivered by mothers with primary or no education and 12% for babies delivered by mothers with secondary and higher education. A lot of them are in low- and middle-income countries says a new United Nations report launched on Tuesday.

Taking the Integrated Child Development Service programme's slogan for World Breastfeeding Week, from August 1 to 6, "Breastfeeding-Foundation of Life" to the public, the officials are conducting awareness rallies and meetings with health workers at mandal-levels.

"Skin-to-skin contact, along with suckling at the breast, stimulate the mother's production of breastmilk, including colostrum, also called the baby's "first vaccine", which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies", said Haque. During the same period, rates of early initiation of breastfeeding decreased from 40% to 27%.

World Health Organization added that even a delay of a few hours after birth could pose life-threatening consequences.

It says 65 per cent of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have the highest rate of breastfeeding within the first hour, while East Asia and the Pacific have the lowest rate with only 32 percent benefitting from the early initiation.

"We must find new ways-and new political will-to help these children, wherever they live, benefit from the lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding", the organization said in a statement.

The focus on the first hour after birth as being critical to a baby's health was supported by previous research that found children fed between two and 23 hours after birth had a 33 percent increase in early death or disease.

It says mothers who start breastfeeding immediately find it easier to produce milk and that they tend to nurse longer.

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore said, when it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything adding that in many countries, it could even be a matter of life or death.

The World Health Organisation believes that as many as 820,000 lives could be saved across the globe each year if more women are encouraged to breastfeed. Breastfeeding all babies for their first two years would save the lives of more than 820,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

"Improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of more than 800,000 children under five every year, the vast majority of whom are under six months of age". Among 51 countries, early initiation of breastfeeding is significantly lower among newborns delivered by C-section.

By countries, nearly 9 in 10 babies from Burundi, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu are breastfed within the first hour after birth, while, on the other hand, in Azerbaijan, Chad, and Montenegro only 2 in 10 babies are enjoying this healthy practice.

The report is based on data from 76 countries, excluding North America, Australia, New Zealand and western Europe.

In Egypt, caesarean section rates more than doubled between 2005 and 2014, increasing from 20% to 52%.

Despite not having data on breastfeeding mothers in the USA and Europe, WHO researchers estimated that 2.6 million children, or 21 percent, in these high-income countries are not breast fed.

The report urged governments and other decision-makers to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes to help address the situation.