The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has issued a cautionary message, alerting that substituting artificial feeding for breastfeeding can have detrimental effects on a child’s growth, development, and overall survival.
Philomena Irene, a Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF, delivered this warning during a media dialogue held in Bauchi State as part of the observance of the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week. The theme for the week was ‘Enabling breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents’.
Irene strongly urged women to adopt exclusive breastfeeding as a fundamental practice, emphasizing its significance in cultivating a more sustainable world and ensuring the well-being and survival of infants during their initial six months.
She elaborated on the remarkable properties of breast milk, highlighting that it contains optimal nutrients essential for infant growth and antibodies that bolster a baby’s immune system to combat viruses, bacteria, infections, childhood obesity, diabetes, and even enhance cognitive development, among other myriad advantages.
Drawing attention to the statistics, Irene pointed out that breastfed children have a sixfold greater likelihood of survival in their early months compared to those who are not breastfed. She added a compelling statistic: exclusively breastfed children are 14 times less susceptible to mortality within the first six months than those who do not receive breast milk exclusively.
Furthermore, the specialist underscored that a remarkable 13% of child deaths could potentially be prevented if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed their infants during the initial six months of their lives.
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