Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 30, 2008

Babies breast-fed for six months enjoy better health

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:53 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Only two in seven infants here are breast-fed for the first four months of their life. This is two months short of the six months recommended by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
This is despite the fact that Malaysia is one of only three countries in the world, after Sweden and Oman, to have all its government hospitals accredited as baby friendly.
Instead of giving their infants the best start in life, parents are replacing mother’s milk with inferior substitutes like formula, cow’s milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk and even coffee, tea and sugar water.
Unicef Malaysia representative Youssouf Oomar said: “Not only are these substitutes inferior, they are also dangerous for babies to consume.
“Giving an infant any food or drink other than breast milk increases the risk of diarrhoea, pneumonia, ear infections, a runny nose and other infections. Breast-feeding reduces these risks.” he said in conjunction with World Breast-Feeding Week from Aug 1 to 7.
Infants who are correctly and exclusively breast-fed for the first six months get a head start in life, he said.
Breast-fed children are protected from infections, have better eyesight, higher IQs and are less likely to become overweight than those fed with substitutes.
And research has shown that babies who were breast-fed have fewer problems later in life with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes and even cancer.
“Breast milk is essentially an infant’s ‘first immunisation’. These essential nutrients given at infancy help make a lasting impression on a child’s development and future,” he said.
Youssouf also pointed out that a mother’s own health can benefit from breast-feeding her child.
Equally important, he said, with rising food prices, breast-feeding helps families save RM85 to RM275 a month on infant food.
In conjunction with World Breast Feeding Week, Unicef is organising a forum on “Working Women and Breast-Feeding” at the Garden Hotel next to Mid Valley Megamall on Aug 1 from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

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