World Breastfeeding Week: Mother’s Milk Protects Child from Infections, Provides Nutrition

Bhubaneswar : Breastfeeding will protect your child from serious infections. It is the only vital nutrient for a baby under 6 months of age, said prominent pediatrician Dr. Radhanath Satpathy, former Head of Pediatrics at Ispat General Hospital, and former State Coordinator of Breast Feeding Network of India.

Currently, Dr. Satpathy is the Head of Social pediatrics and Minority Health at AIPH University Bhubaneswar. On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week from Aug 1-7, Dr Satpathy said, “Breastfeeding has no alternative for an infant. Antibodies present in the mother’s milk prevent many infections. It is considered the ideal nutrition for ensuring holistic growth of a child. Therefore, it’s high time to create large-scale awareness in families across communities in Odisha.”

“Out of ignorance or lack of proper understanding, many women, and even some families, in the State don’t deem it necessary to breastfeed their child, which is a very disturbing trend,” he rued.

As per WHO, breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.

Elaborating on the stages of breastfeeding, Dr Satpathy said, a baby needs to be breastfed the colostrum milk within 1 hour of birth. Because, the yellow sticky milk contains antibodies and white blood cells that not only protects the baby from infection but also is vital for digestive system.

He further added that a child has to be exclusively breastfed (transitional milk) till 6 months. For a child of 6-8 months, liquid food (like vegetable soup, fruit juice etc.) be supplemented along with mother’s milk. Satpathy emphasized that a child upto 2 years has to be breastfed in right proportion in order to ensure its proper growth-physically and mentally.

“Studies reveal that babies who are not breastfed develop grave nutritional deficiencies. In many cases, stunted growth (poor height to weight ratio) in babies is observed,” he informed.

Terming breastfeeding as doubly beneficial, Satpathy said the breastfeeding mothers benefit immensely from the practice.

“Breastfeeding will prevent obesity, breast cancer and diabetes in women. Moreover, it also acts as a natural contraceptive for women, said Dr Satpathy.