Ending breastfeeding too early and introducing other foods into baby’s diet at the wrong time, remain one of the greatest threats to a child’s health.
World Breastfeeding Week 2020 begins today, and CARPHA is issuing some information on the topic.
It says in the Caribbean, breastfeeding initiation within the first hour of birth is fairly high, however, continued exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is low at approximately 39%.
The benefits of breastfeeding are tremendous for both mother and baby – breast milk is specially designed to meet the health needs of a growing baby and provides protection against infections and illness, including ear infections, diarrhoea, and pneumonia.
Antibodies protect against allergy and infection, and Vitamin A prevents eye disease.
Also, as the baby’s first immunity, it also helps prevent jaundice and contains fats that are necessary for brain development.
Breastfeeding can also help to prevent childhood obesity and maternal obesity, which are important risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.
CARPHA also says if we are to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in life, mothers should try to feed their babies exclusively on breast milk for the first six months of life.
Breastfeeding also has health benefits for the mother.
Mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”.
This theme focuses on the impact of infant feeding on the environment in this era of climate change and the importance of promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding to ensure and maintain good health.