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Children still grow up separated from their families in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
77 million newborns globally not breastfed within first hour of life
Delayed breastfeeding increases risk of newborn deaths by up to 80 per cent
Some 77 million new-borns – or 1 in 2 – are not put to the breast within an hour of birth, depriving them of the essential nutrients, antibodies and skin-to-skin contact with their mother that protect them from disease and death, UNICEF said.
“Global studies have shown that if new-borns are breastfed in the first one hour, and exclusively breastfed for the first six months, there are better chances of their survival, their health improves, they grow up smarter, they work and earn better, and the country has a better economy and healthier population,” said Berina Arslanagic-Ibisevic, UNICEF Representative a.i. in Uzbekistan. “Babies who are exclusively breastfed from the moment they are born until they are six months old have more chances to survive and get the best start in their lives.”
Progress in getting more new-borns breastfed within the first hour of life has been slow over the past 15 years, UNICEF data show. The organization’s analyses show that women are not getting the help they need to start breastfeeding immediately after birth even when a doctor, nurse of midwife is assisting their delivery.
The longer breastfeeding is delayed, the higher the risk of death in the first month of life. Delaying breastfeeding by 2-23 hours after birth increases the risk of dying in the first 28 days of life by 40 per cent. Delaying it by 24 hours or more increases that risk to 80 per cent.
“Breastmilk is a baby’s first vaccine, the first and best protection against illness,” said Prof. Dilorom Akhmedova, Director of the Republican Specialized Scientific Practical Medical Centre of Pediatrics. Bbabies do not need other liquids or foods.”
In many countries, it is customary to feed a baby infant formula, cow’s milk or sugar water in the first three days of life. Almost half of all newborns are fed these liquids. When babies are given less nutritious alternatives to breastmilk, they breastfeed less often, making it harder for mothers to start and continue breastfeeding.
Globally, only 43 per cent of infants under six months old are exclusively breastfed. Babies who are not breastfed at all are 14 times more likely to die than those who are fed only breastmilk.
But any amount of breastmilk reduces a child’s risk of death. Babies who received no breastmilk at all are seven times more likely to die from infections than those who received at least some breastmilk in their first six months of life.