It’s World Breastfeeding Week!
By The Editors
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
According to the Innocenti Declaration, breastfeeding is a unique process that:
- Provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their healthy growth and development.
- Reduces incidence and severity of infectious diseases, thereby lowering infant morbidity and mortality.
- Contributes to women’s health by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and by increasing the spacing between pregnancies.
- Provides social and economic benefits to the family and the nation.
- Provides most women with a sense of satisfaction when successfully carried out.
Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
You can read below the objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2013:
1. To draw attention to the importance of Peer Support in helping mothers to establish and sustain breastfeeding.
2. To inform people of the highly effective benefits of Peer Counselling, and unite efforts to expand peer counselling programmes.
3. To encourage breastfeeding supporters, regardless of their educational background, to step forward and be trained to support mothers and babies.
4. To identify local community support contacts for breastfeeding mothers, that women can go to for help and support after giving birth.
5. To call on governments and maternity facilities globally to actively implement the Ten Steps, in particular Step 10, to improve duration and rates of exclusive breastfeeding.
I definitely agree with the comments made by the other readers. Breast milk has numerous benefits in addition to developing the baby’s immune system. Breastfed babies has a reduced risk of developing diabetes, obesity, asthma, and other adverse health conditions in the future.
We should also raise awareness about situations in which the mother should refrain from breastfeeding. According to the CDC, the mothers in the following situations should avoid breastfeeding:
1) Infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
2) Is taking antiretroviral medications
3) Has untreated or active tuberculosis
4) Is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus
5) Is using or is dependent upon an illicit drug
6) Is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents
7) Is undergoing radiation therapies
I really enjoyed this post because I’m very interested in maternal and infant health. As such, I’ve read several articles discussing the benefits of breast feeding for the infant, especially in regards to their developing immune systems. As Kalpesh Patidar stated, breastfeeding offers numerous advantages to the babies by developing their weak immune response. However, I am also interested in the connection between breastfeeding and allergies. An allergy is the immune system reacting against an innocuous substance as if it were a harmful agent. My own family has a history of allergies, and I am curious as to the connection between breast feeding and how that affects the incidence of allergies for the infant later on in life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there has been evidence showing that breastfeeding for the first four months can reduce the incidence of certain allergies (milk allergies, allergic skin rashes, and wheezing) in babies born to families with a history of allergies, compared to babies given exclusively cow’s milk or a soy-based formula. There are many other factors that can determine whether someone will suffer from allergies later on in life (such as genetics), and more research must be done in this area to better understand the connection.
This article is great for the general population, but I would love to stress on one of the declaration rules that talks about breast feeding “reduces incidence and severity of infectious diseases, thereby lowering infant morbidity and mortality”(The Editors). The reason why there is a reduction of infectious diseases is due to the Immune system. A new born has a weak immune system and the mother’s breast milk provides vast amounts of Ig(A) which is an antibody. This particular antibody not only binds to antigens to inactivate the pathogen and get it ready for phagocyctosis, but it also provides limitation of inflammation on the tissue that could have dangerous effects on a newborn. Then the breast milk also provides other leukocytes like macrophages and neutrophils that help in the phagocytic process. Finally, the milk also helps in an innate defense manner by having high levels of a globular gylco-protein called Lactoferrin, and this protein helps to restrict bacteria from growing by competing for essential iron.
I never knew about World Breast Feeding Week! I think it’s a great way to support and make more people aware of how breast feeding can be very beneficial for a woman and her baby. To my understanding I’ve heard from some nursing mother’s that breast feeding helps a woman lose the weight she picked up during her pregnancy. Supposedly, breast milk is a high-fat and high caloric food and since the baby is sucking an taking that in the baby is taking in the calories, hence the woman is losing those calories and losing weight.