Moldova’s children could benefit more from breastfeeding practices
1 August 2013 − More mothers breastfeed when they receive support, counselling and education in health centres and in their communities − this is one of the messages of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), celebrated in the first week of August.
This year it is built around the theme of Breastfeeding Support for Mothers.
World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that new-borns are breastfed within the first hour of life. Studies show that initiating breastfeeding immediately after birth can reduce the risk of new-born’s death by up to 20 per cent, by boosting the child’s immune system. Mothers are encouraged to maintain breastfeeding during the first two years of life, as breast milk contains all the nutrients and essential elements necessary for the child growth and development.
The child must be fed exclusively with breast milk for the first six months of life, without any additional foods or liquids that are harmful to his health. Worldwide, only 39 per cent of children under six months old are exclusively breastfed and this number has improved very little in recent decades.
In Moldova, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first half of the year is decreasing. If in 2005, 46% of infants were fed exclusively with breast milk for the first six months, then in 2012 this figure was 36%. Feeding practices vary depending on the living area − the situation is better in villages where 40% of children are exclusively breastfed, compared to only 30% in urban areas, according to the 2012 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey data.
The Study also shows that in Moldova more than 60% of children were breastfed within the first hour of life and 87% in the first 24 hours after birth; half of the children (48%) were continuously breastfed until the age of 1 year, and 12% were continuously breastfed until the age of two years.
International studies show that breastfeeding practices would improve with more information about breastfeeding practices and benefits of maternal milk provided to mothers. Counselling, education and support can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates among children less than six months old by up to 90 per cent.
Breastfeeding – a baby’s ‘first immunization’ – is the most effective and least costly life-saver. The breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients for child health and development. It also contains antibodies that protect children from certain diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two leading causes of child mortality worldwide. No artificial substitute is able to replace the breast milk – on the contrary it poses risks to children's health, caused by unsafe water, unsterilized equipment or potential presence of bacteria in the milk powder.
Aside from the immediate benefits for children, breastfeeding has life lasting positive effects on people’s health. People who were breastfed as children are less likely to experience obesity or diabetes; they also have better performance in intelligence tests. Breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother, because it prevents breast and cervical cancer.
The World Breastfeeding Week 2013 is organized in Moldova by the Ministry of Health, National Center of Public Health in partnership with UNICEF and WHO. During the period of 1-7 August the public medical institutions around the country will provide breastfeeding information and counselling to mothers and positive breastfeeding practices will be promoted by mass-media.
For further contact:
Irina Lipcanu, Media Officer, UNICEF Moldova, tel.: 269 235; E-mail: email@example.com;
Breastfeeding Key Messages