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UNICEF: 3 out of 5 babies not breastfed in first hour

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Around 78 million babies or three out of five are not breastfed within the first hour of the birth, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

This condition is making them vulnerable to diseases and putting them at a higher risk of death.

Most of these babies are born in low-income nations and according to the report, newborns who breastfed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive.

It is to be noted that skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulates the mother’s production of breast milk, including colostrum, also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’, which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.

“When it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything. In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death,” adding, “Yet each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons – all too often – are things we can change. Mothers simply don’t receive enough support to breastfeed within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities.”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore.

As per the report, breastfeeding rates within the first hour after birth are highest in Eastern and Southern Africa (65 per cent) and lowest in East Asia and the Pacific (32 per cent).

Breastfeeding within the first hour is highest in Burundi, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu, which is nearly Nine in 10 babies.

“Breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life,” adding, “We must urgently scale up support to mothers – be it from family members, health care workers, employers, and governments, so they can give their children the start they deserve.”, said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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