Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child features of development of children 6 and 7 years and survival. WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. This fact file explores the many benefits of the practice, and how strong support to mothers can increase breastfeeding worldwide. It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development.
It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. It reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese. They are less likely to have type-II diabetes and perform better in intelligence tests. When infant formula is not properly prepared, there are risks arising from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment or the potential presence of bacteria in powdered formula. Malnutrition can result from over-diluting formula to “stretch” supplies. HIV-exposed infant reduces the risk of transmission.
Together, breastfeeding and ARVs have the potential to significantly improve infants’ chances of surviving while remaining HIV uninfected. Many routine practices, such as separation of mother and baby, use of newborn nurseries, and supplementation with infant formula, actually make it harder for mothers and babies to breastfeed. Mothers need a safe, clean and private place in or near their workplace to continue breastfeeding. Foods for the baby can be specially prepared or modified from family meals. Breastfeeding in the 21st Century: Epidemiology, Mechanisms and Lifelong Effect. 6 million children under the age of 5 years died in 2016. This translates into 15 000 under-five deaths per day.
More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions. Leading causes of death in children under-5 years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria. Children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 15 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than children in high income countries. Improving the quality of antenatal care, care at the time of childbirth, and postnatal care for mothers and their newborns are all essential to prevent these deaths. 6 million children died in the first month of life in 2016. From the end of the neonatal period and through the first 5 years of life, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.
Malnutrition is the underlying contributing factor, making children more vulnerable to severe diseases. The world has made substantial progress in child survival since 1990. The global under-5 mortality rate has dropped by 56 per cent from 93 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 41 in 2016. Meeting the SDG target would reduce the number of under-5 deaths by 10 million between 2017 and 2030.