Breastfeeding Saves Lives: Ministry of HealthBy Sofía Garduño | Mon, 08/08/2022 - 08:52
In observance of the World Breastfeeding Week, the Ministry of Health (SSa) warned about the potential effects of feeding ultra-processed baby formulas and snacks to children between 0 and 36 months old.
However, publicity is being used to convince parents and caregivers to acquire these products, according to the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) and UNICEF. “Most of the milk formulas and infant foods such as porridge and snacks that are promoted on social networks have a high content of added sugars, trans fats, sodium and proteins,” said SSa.
In Mexico, 43 percent of babies under six months old are given baby formula instead of breastmilk and over 5,700 infant deaths linked to inadequate breastfeeding practices are reported annually. If babies were fed exclusively on breastmilk for the first six months, premature deaths would be prevented and MX$200,000 million (US$108 billion) would be saved, said SSa. Mexico has the lowest rate of breastfeeding in Latin America, with only 14 percent of mothers exclusively breastfeeding during the first six months of their baby’s life. Giving breastmilk to a newborn during its first hour of life can reduce neonatal mortality by 20 percent and reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhage during postpartum, according to UNICEF.
There are also many economic benefits to breastfeeding. Households can make significant savings by not consuming formulas and equipment for artificial feeding. Parents can also save on water and fuel for the preparation and cleaning of bottles, and reduce medical expenses due to fewer visits to doctors and hospitals because infants who are breastfed get sick less often, as reported by MBN.
Due to the publicity issued by milk substitute brands, over 55 percent of parents consider that these products are better than breastmilk, as reported by INSP. “Food and formula advertising on the internet and social networks uses messages and strategies that confuse about the best way to feed babies and hinder the decision to breastfeed,” says UNICEF. To avoid this, UNICEF urges caregivers to consult reliable sources before taking any decision regarding the nutrition of babies and children.
The WHO has issued several recommendations to promote and support breastfeeding. It invites policymakers to limit promotion of breast-milk substitutes among health workers and in healthcare settings. It also encourages health and community leaders to increase awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding. The organization also invites health workers to anticipate and respond to the needs of mothers and infants.
“Breastfeeding is essential to guarantee the best start of life for all boys and girls, it is the first vaccine for the baby and the best source of nutrition,” says INSP.