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Only two in 10 babies born in Azerbaijan are breastfed in the first hour of life

Breastfeeding within an hour after birth is critical for saving newborns

Baku, 31 July 2018 – An estimated 78 million babies around the world – or three in five – are not breastfed within the first hour, putting them at higher risk of death and disease and making them less likely to continue breastfeeding, say UNICEF and WHO in a new report. Most of these babies are born in low- and middle-income countries, where breastfeeding can save lives.

According to the report – ‘Capture the Moment’ -  Azerbaijan is among the few countries with less than 20% of children receiving early initiation of breastfeeding, indicating that only two in 10 newborn babies in Azerbaijan are breastfed in the first hour of life.

The report notes that newborns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive. Even a delay of a few hours after birth could pose life-threatening consequences. Skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulate the production of breastmilk, including colostrum, also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’, which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.

“Breastfeeding helps children receive the best possible start in life,” says Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan. “We are happy to be supporting the Government in promoting exclusive breastfeeding in Azerbaijan, but more can be done to urgently scale up support to mothers – amongst family members, health care workers, employers and the government, so all new-born children receive the life-saving nutrition they need from the moment they are born.”

UNICEF Azerbaijan has supported the Ministry of Health on promotion of breastfeeding since 2016 with a number of activities, ranging from joint communication campaigns to training healthcare professionals.

“The Ministry of Health, with UNICEF’s support, is planning to reinforce the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative to encourage health facilities meet international standards of practices on breastfeeding,” says Carwardine.

Capture the Moment, which analyzes data from 76 countries, finds that despite the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding, too many newborns wait too long for different reasons:

·       Feeding newborns food or drinks, including formula: Common practices, such as discarding colostrum, an elder feeding the baby honey or health professionals giving the newborn a specific liquid, such as sugar water or infant formula, delay a newborn’s first critical contact with his or her mother.

·       The rise in elective C-sections: A study across 51 countries notes that early initiation rates are significantly lower among newborns delivered by caesarean section. In Honduras, for example, only 12% of babies born by C-section started breastfeeding in the first hour, compared to 77% of babies who were born naturally. 

·       Gaps in the quality of care provided to mothers and newborns: The presence of a skilled birth attendant does not seem to affect rates of early breastfeeding, according to the report. Across 58 countries between 2005 and 2017, deliveries at health institutions grew by 18%, while early initiation rates increased only by 6%. In many cases, babies are separated from their mothers immediately after birth and guidance from health workers is limited. In Serbia, the rates increased by 43% from 2010 to 2014 largely due to efforts to improve the care mothers received at birth.

Earlier studies, cited in the report, show that newborns who began breastfeeding between two and 23 hours after birth had a 33% greater risk of dying compared with those who began breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Among newborns who started breastfeeding a day or more after birth, the risk was more than twice as high.

The report urges governments, donors and other decision-makers to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes.


About the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization directs and coordinates international health within the United Nations system. Working with its 194 Member States, WHO’s mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. For more information about WHO, visit Learn about WHO’s work on breastfeeding at Follow WHO on Twitter and Facebook


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit Learn about the Every Child ALIVE campaign to save newborns. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook




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