August 3, 2016
Written by Ellen Wulfhorst, Thomson Reuters Foundation
More than half of newborn babies are not breastfed within the first hour of life, putting them at heightened risk of disease and death, the United Nations’ children’s agency said on Friday, highlighting sub-Saharan Africa as an area of concern.
Feeding babies within an hour of birth passes on critical nutrients, antibodies and skin contact with their mothers that can protect them, UNICEF said.
Delaying breastfeeding by two to 23 hours after birth increases the risk of a baby dying in its first month by 40 percent and delaying by 24 hours or more increases the risk of death to 80 percent, UNICEF said.
Studies shows newborns account for nearly half of all deaths of children under age 5.
UNICEF, which has been campaigning to promote early breastfeeding, estimates 77 million babies around the world each year are not breastfed within the first hour of their life. It estimates about 130 million babies are born each year.