Breastfeeding within one hour of birth can reduce infant mortality
NEW YORK, 1 August 2007 – Breastfeeding babies immediately after birth can prevent a significant number of neonatal deaths in developing countries, said UNICEF today at the start of World Breastfeeding Week.
A study from Ghana published in the journal Pediatrics indicates that 16 per cent of neonatal deaths can be prevented by breastfeeding infants from day one,rising to 22 per cent if breastfeeding begins within one hour of birth. Early initiation of breastfeeding is the theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.
“More than one third of child deaths occur during the first fragile month of life,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman. “Early breastfeeding provides critical nutrients, protects infants against deadly diseases and fosters growth and development.”
The issue is particularly relevant in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. Around 10 per cent of all babies die before the age of one and most neonatal deaths occur at home. Though the rate of exclusive breastfeeding until the age of six months has more than doubled in the region since 1990 – to 30 per cent – this still leaves hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to disease and death.
UNICEF estimates that exclusive breastfeeding to the age of six months could prevent the deaths of 1.3 million children under the age of five each year.
“It is critical to reach women in their homes and communities,” said Veneman.
World Breastfeeding Week
Breastfeeding Advocacy package
The Ghana Study
For further information, please contact:
Jessica Malter, UNICEF Media NY, +1 212 326 – 7412, firstname.lastname@example.org