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Reduce infant mortality by promoting breastfeeding within one hour of birth, UNICEF Iran says

TEHRAN, 5 August 2007 – Breastfeeding babies within the first hour of birth is the first and most vital step towards reducing infant and under-five mortality, Mohamed Abderrahmane Ould Bouasria, Officer-in-Charge of UNICEF Iran, said today at a seminar held in Tehran on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week.

UNICEF estimates that exclusive breastfeeding to the age of six months could prevent the deaths of 1.3 million children worldwide under the age of five each year. A recent study from rural Ghana clearly showed that 41 per cent of all babies who die during day 2 and 28 of their life could be saved by a simple intervention: beginning to breastfeed within one hour of birth.

In Iran, however, almost half of all babies are weaned of exclusive breastfeeding before the age of four months.

“The pattern of early weaning is observed with equal frequency in rural and urban areas all over Iran,” Mr Abderrahmane Ould Bouasria said in a speech today. “According to data published by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, although 54 per cent of women in Iran exclusively breastfed their babies for the first four months, this figures declines to 28 per cent when looking at the rate over the first six months.”

Consequently, this year’s theme of World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated by UNICEF in more than 120 countries worldwide together with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, the World Health Organization and international NGO partners, is:

“Breastfeeding: The 1st Hour - Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for six months can save more than ONE million babies!”

In Iran, UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health at the national level in its breastfeeding advocacy and promotion program. It also assists the Ministry in promoting awareness-raising and training on exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued semi-exclusive breastfeeding for up to two years in 12 districts of Sistan and Baluchistan, Hormozgan and West Azerbaijan.

The district of Bandar Lengeh in Hormozgan and the district of Chabahar in Sistan and Baluchestan were selected as focus areas for the correct application of Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative standards, which includes counseling sessions for women on safe motherhood activities, giving breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding of their babies.

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 and is now observed in over 120 countries by UNICEF and its partners, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the World Health Organization. For more information on this year’s World Breastfeeding Week campaign, visit the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre and download its information package: http://www.unicef-irc.org/

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

 

 
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