Breastfeeding infants during the first hour of birth can prevent 22% of neonatal deaths.
Nicaragua has a rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life of 30.5%
MANAGUA, July 30, 2013.- On the 21st anniversary of the Global Week of Breastfeeding, the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF in Nicaragua reiterated its commitment to support the country in the implementation of this practice that benefit children to ensure the best start in their life, also announced the launch of the campaign "To give breast milk is to give the best of you."
In Nicaragua UNICEF with the Ministry of Health and other partners, have positioned Breastfeeding as the most important intervention related to a Promise Renewed Initiative, which aims to influence neonatal mortality and chronic malnutrition in childhood.
For this UNICEF technically accompanies the MoH in the renewing of the Child and mother Friendly Units Initiative, through which it seeks to ensure that by the year 2015, at least 80% of the units (hospitals, health centers and stations) are Recertified in order to create the conditions to raise the rate of exclusive Breastfeeding during the first six months of life and extended complimentary breastfeeding until 24 months of age.
Optimum breastfeeding of infants under two years of age has more potential impact on the survival of children than any other preventive intervention, because it can prevent 1.4 million deaths of children under five years old in the developing world (The Lancet, 2008). Studies show that if 90 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months infant mortality would decrease by 13 percent (The Lancet, 2008).
Breastfed children are at least six times more likely to survival the first few months than non-breastfed children. Breastfeeding drastically reduces deaths from acute respiratory infections and diarrhea, two major causes of infant mortality, as well as deaths from infectious diseases (WHO-The Lancet, 2000). The potential impact of optimal breastfeeding practices is especially important in developing countries where there is a high burden of disease and poor access to safe water and sanitation. In contrast, non-breastfed children in industrialized countries are also at increased risk of dying: a recent study of post neonatal mortality in the United States found a 25% increase in mortality in non-breastfed infants. In the cohort study, the millennium, the UK, exclusive breastfeeding for six months was associated with a 53% decrease in hospitalizations for diarrhea and a decrease of 27% in respiratory tract infections.
Despite convincing empirical evidence that exclusive breastfeeding prevents diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia, which kill millions of children each year, Nicaragua has a breastfeeding rate of 30.5%. The global breastfeeding rates have remained relatively stagnant in the developing world, with a growth of 32% in 1995 to 39% in 2010.
Obstacles to breastfeeding
Some of the obstacles to improving breastfeeding rates are widespread and unethical marketing manufacturers of breast milk substitutes and lack of understanding of the risks of not breastfeeding.
If breastfeeding would be more efficiently promoted and women protected from the aggressive commercialization of breast milk substitutes, we would see more children survive and prosper with lower rates of disease, malnutrition and stunted growth,” stated UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in the press conference.
Other obstacles are the new styles of living, such as the incorporation of women into the workforce especially in informal forms, without access to maternity leave and without conditions to breastfeed at the job site impede breastfeeding.
Breast feeding for child survival
In 2012, world leaders gathered in Washington, DC, as part of the movement "Commitment to child survival: A renewed promise," pledged to work to end preventable child deaths. The World Breastfeeding Week provides an opportunity to reaffirm the essential role of this practice in reducing child mortality.
UNICEF works on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help guarantee children the right to survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is the largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, works to improve the health and nutrition of children, the water supply and sanitation services, the quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children against violence, exploitation, HIV and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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