Breastfeeding within one hour of birth can significantly reduce infant mortality in Viet Nam
Ha Noi, 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, 1-7 August 2007.
This year’s theme: “Breastfeeding: the first hour, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding can save more than one million babies” offers an excellent opportunity to draw global attention to the important role that breastfeeding plays in saving lives of infants.
“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.”
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.
Viet Nam has promoted breastfeeding since the early 1980s. Viet Nam has also adopted policies on exclusive breastfeeding to at least six months of age as part of its national nutrition strategy and advocated the initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour after birth. Yet despite these policies, recent studies show only 12% of Vietnamese infants were breastfed exclusively in the first six months of life and only one quarter were breastfed within the first hour of birth. Bottle-feeding of infants is still very common and on the rise and early complementary feeding also remains a big problem with some 55% of young children being given complementary food before six months of age.
“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective interventions to save lives of young children, contributing to prevent 13% of all under 5 deaths,” said UNICEF Viet Nam Health and Nutrition Chief, Marjatta Tolvanen-Ojutkangas. “Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for the following six months would reduce 22% of all neonatal deaths in Viet Nam. These are the first and most vital steps towards reducing infant and under 5 mortality, and form a solid foundation for good child health and growth.”
UNICEF is committed to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and it has been working closely with the Reproductive Health Department of the Ministry of Health, National Institute for Nutrition, the World Health Organization and other partners on a number of initiatives to advocate and further promote breastfeeding practice in Viet Nam.
BACKGROUNDWorld 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.
Breastfeeding Advocacy package
The Ghana Study
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Marjatta Tolvanen-Ojutkangas, Chief of Health and Nutrition, UNICEF Viet Nam, +844 942 – 5706, ext. 212, or 091 323 2952, firstname.lastname@example.org