Breast-feeding can reduce infant mortality, say doctors

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Bangalore, July 31, 2013: Breast-feeding is not only an integral part of a child’s growth but also the solution to the increasing infant mortality rate in the State, doctors have said.

The 2011 census revealed the poor health of the people of Karnataka especially in the areas of infant mortality and maternal mortality. The State has an infant mortality rate of 45 for every 1,000 live births — higher than Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

“Twenty-four per cent of infant mortalities can be reduced if the mother breast-feeds the baby within two hours of its birth,” said Dr Banapur Mutt, Member, National Breast-Feeding Committee, at the inauguration of the World Breastfeeding Week at M S Ramaiah Memorial Hospital here on Wednesday. The breastfeeding week starts on Thursday.

He went on to add that it is the solution to the mortality rate among young children.

“International studies have shown that breast milk has all the nutrients and if a baby gets only that for six months, the under-five mortality rate can be brought down by five per cent. Also, if a baby is given mother’s milk along with other nutrients till two years of age, another six percent of mortality rate can be brought down.”

Dr Jyothika Desai, President of Bangalore Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, concurred, “It is the best feed for a baby. With breast-feeding, the baby will get the right amount of nutrients which milk-fed otherwise may lack. Also, mother’s milk is hygienic.”

Doctors are of the opinion that many misconceptions surround breast milk. “Many mothers are advised to not give the baby their milk for two days after birth; this advice is wrong,” said S P Suryanarayana, Head, Community Medicine, MSR Hospital. “Mother’s milk has all the nutrients needed to make a baby healthy and strong.”

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