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Exclusive Breastfeeding Saved 820, 000 Children -UNICEF


Gabriel Idibia, Kaduna

A UNICEF Nutritio Specialist, Dr. Florence Oni, had disclosed that exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) saved the lives of some 820,000 children just as she encouraged mothers to go exclusive on their babies.

She also revealed that EBF provides all the vital nutrients infants and young children needs and 100% child energy needs for the first six month of life.

These were contained in a paper she during a media briefing on WBW 2016, in Kaduna, where she also stated that half or more of energy needs of children from 6-12 months, and one-third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months comes from breastfeeding milk.

The paper titled: Breast Feeding: A key to Sustainable Development and Addressing the Current Situation and Challenges of Malnutrition in Kaduna field offices States”, Dr. Oni further stressed that EBF fight infections, which is one of the top most interventions for reducing under-5 mortality rate, and reduce to 12 % of the risk of death in Low and Meddle Income Countries, (LMICs), compare to those who were not breastfed, 3-4 times, likely to die.

According to her, nearly half of all diarrhoea episodes and 1/3 of respiratory infections would be prevented with any breastfeeding during the first six months.

The nutrition expert noted that improved breastfeeding practices could save an additional 20,000 maternal lives annually from breast cancer, decrease the prevalence of overweight, obesity and diabetes later in life.

“Long breastfeeding duration is associated with a 13% reduction in the likelihood of overweight and or obesity prevalence, and a 35% reduction in type-2 diabetes incidences”, she said.

The nutritionist added that EBF ensures quality education as it pProvides nutritional head start for success associated with an average 3 point increase in IQ among children and adolescents”.

Mrs. Oni further disclosed that BF provides cognitive ability leads to increased productive/earnings later in life, better learning and literacy outcomes relevant to global targets on more effective, inclusive educate, birth spacing among others.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chief of Field Office UNICEF Kaduna Utpal Moitra said the 2016 WBW is targeted at creating awareness on the relationship between BF and infant and young child feeding as a key component of sustainable development goals.

Moira said feeding of the colostrum serve as the first immunization against a host of diseases the mother must have been exposed to while confining breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond with appropriate complementary feeding supports optimal health, psychological and cognitive development with higher intelligence quotient and mental development.

He said the WBW, cerebrated from 1-7th of August every year is a follow up to the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policy makers (WHO, UNICEF), and other organizations to protect, promote and BF.

He added that Nigeria enacted national policy for marketing breast milk substituents in 1992, and launched the policy on infant and young child feeding in 2005 and joins the world to celebrate the week on 1-7 August every year.

Other nutrition experts who spoke during the media briefing subscribed to the importance and relevant of BF both to the children and mother, reduced malnutrition and ensure development. End

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