The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) says all babies in Latin American and the Caribbean should be breastfed within the first hour of life, lamenting that half of babies (52 per cent) in the region are not breastfed within that time.
On Tuesday, PAHO stressed that breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for newborns.
In 2017, an estimated 78 million babies – or three in five – were not breastfed within the first hour of life, “putting them at higher risk of death and disease and making them less likely to continue breastfeeding,” according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new report. Most of these babies are born in low- and middle-income countries, the report says.
PAHO recommended breastfeeding of newborns within the first 60 minutes of life; breastfeeding of babies exclusively until the age of six months, and breastfeeding as a supplement until the age of two years.
Currently, just 38 per cent of all babies are breastfed exclusively until six months of age in the region, and just 32 percent continue breastfeeding for two years, PAHO said.
“Breastfeeding is vital to a child’s lifelong health …..,Infants are at greater risk of death due to diarrhea and other infections when they are not breastfed at all or when they are only partially breastfed,” PAHO stated. It also said breastfeeding also improves a child’s IQ, school readiness and attendance, and is associated with earning higher income when they reach adulthood. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast cancer in mothers, PAHO said.