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Formula milk advertisement, obstacle to exclusive breastfeeding ― Expert

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A nursing mother breastfeeding her baby.

THE influence of advertisement of formula milk is a major barrier to exclusive breastfeeding of newborns in Nigeria, a Gynaecologist, Dr Azeez Ojekunle, has said.


Ojekunle, who works with Mount Sinai Hospital in Lagos, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

According to WHO, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from Aug.1 to Aug.7 to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old.

Nutritious complementary foods should then be added

while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

Ojekunle said that the formula feed advertisement had made some nursing mothers believe that it has equal benefit as exclusive breastfeeding.

According to him, some mothers feel comfortable feeding their babies with formula milk.

“Though, many mothers are inclined toward breastfeeding, however, there are still some barriers to breastfeeding.

“One of such is the influence of the advertisement of formula milk; sometimes, the producers paint the picture of the feed as being better than exclusive breastfeeding.

“They even go as far as saying that formula milk contains everything a child needs for growth.

“Mothers need to know that breastfeeding is an important aspect of healthcare delivery to infants, and has been proven to be of immense benefit, not only to babies but also to mothers.

“The benefits are not just immediate, but long-term,’’ Ojekunle said.

He said exclusive breastfeeding allows a child’s body system to function perfectly, especially in enhancing the neuron development in infants, adolescence up to childhood.

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The gynaecologist said that the brain still develops, especially in the first two years after delivery.

Ojekunle said, “Exclusive breastfeeding improves a child’s intellectual development and makes that child perform excellently well academically.’’

He said that some antibodies in breast milk help to improve child’s immunity and prevents him from malaria infection.

Ojekunle said: “Apart from the nutritional benefit which exclusive breastfeeding gives, it also stimulates mother to infant bonding which may not be there when the child is on formula feeding.

“Evidence has shown that children hardly develop allergy to breast milk, unlike formula feeding.

“There are some instances where breastfeeding can cause mother-to-child transmission of retrovirus infection like HIV.’’

He identified the work-life balance of mothers, mothers not wanting to expose their organs in public and the chaotic traffic experience of mothers in Lagos as other barriers of breastfeeding.

Ojekunle said that these factors gave room for the use of formula feeding by some mothers in feeding their babies, instead of exclusive breastfeeding.

He advised mothers not to feel embarrassed to breastfeed their babies any time, anywhere.

The gynaecologist said that there was no cultural practice or belief that supports a woman not to breastfeed her baby outside the home.

The post Formula milk advertisement, obstacle to exclusive breastfeeding ― Expert appeared first on Tribune.

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