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The World Health
Organization says getting new mothers to breast-feed their infants could save
1.3 million children's lives each year. from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
The World Health Organization says less than 40 percent of mothers around
the world breast-feed their infants in the first six months.
Constanza Vallenas is WHO Medical Officer in the Department of Child and
Adolescent Health and Development. She says raising the global breast-feeding
rate to 90 percent would prevent the deaths of an estimated 13 percent of all
children under the age of five in the developing world.
"It gives the nutrients and the immune factors that are important for
protecting infants against the most serious infections they can get, which is
diarrhea and pneumonia. It also protects against malnutrition. The
recommendation we have along with UNICEF is that infants should be exclusively
breast fed, meaning without even water until six months of age. And, from there
on to continue breast feeding with appropriate complimentary foods until the
age of two years or beyond."
Dr. Vallenas says many mothers are discouraged from breast-feeding because they
do not know how to get their baby to latch on properly to the breast's nipple,
or because they suffer pain and discomfort. She says this problem, which
afflicts women in both rich and poor countries, could be overcome with the
right practical support.
On a related issue, the World Health Organization says pregnant women should be
made aware of the risks they face from both seasonal flu and the H1N1 swine flu
pandemic. It says expectant mothers should be given top priority in receiving
antiviral drugs like Tamiflu.
Translated by Buasawan Simmala