Breast milk endorsed

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Many women are shying away from breast-feeding these days and adopting bottle feeding as a way of providing nutrients to newborn babies.

In celebrating World Breast-feeding Week, August 1 to 7, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has created a campaign to encourage South African women to breast-feed at least within the first hour of birth.

The campaign, themed "Breast-feeding within the first hour of birth", aims at reducing neonatal deaths. Two thirds of neonatal deaths in the country are due to low birth weight and initiating infants early on formula feeding.

Macharia Kamau, Unicef spokesman, said poor infant feeding practices had been shown to compromise children's chances to survive, especially during the first months of life.

"It is vital to breast-feed every baby from the first hour of life. By doing so, mothers could prevent a significant number of neonatal deaths.

"Exclusive breast-feeding, if initiated within the first hour of birth and continued for six months, also reduces diseases," she said.