Srinagar, Aug 7: Breast milk is the ideal food for infants which contains antibodies to help protect against many common childhood illnesses, experts said.
They said breast milk provides ideal nutrition for infants and has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, fat and everything a baby needs to grow.
Dr Mushtaq, a paediatrician, said there is a lot of difference between the mother’s milk and the artificial one. He said that artificial milk is no substitute for the mother’s milk unless it is an emergency.
“Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. It lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea,” Dr Mushtaq said.
Another paediatrician Dr Bashir said breast milk is a very ideal food for infants and contains antibodies. “It contains all the energy and nutrients that the infants need for the first six months of life. After six months, babies should be introduced to soft food but breastfeeding should continue for about two years because it protects a child from illness,” he said. “The baby should be fed small amounts of food with a gradual increase. During an illness, a child needs additional fluids and breastfeeding should not be stopped but we must take care that the baby needs more food to replenish the energy lost due to illness.”
The doctor said that breastfeeding mothers need more calories and calcium. “A mother loses around 5 percent of her bone mass during breastfeeding because a growing baby needs more calcium which is drawn from the mother’s bones,” he said.
Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth, Dr Bashir said, adding that it also lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis too.
Paediatrician Dr Muzaffar said that breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short and long-term illnesses and diseases. He said breastfeeding mothers have fewer chances of deadly diseases and breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Babies who aren’t breastfed often fall ill and the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is around 60 percent and we are making efforts to make it 100 percent, the doctor said.
As per the National Health and Family Survey-5 (NHFS-5), around 62 percent of children in Jammu and Kashmir are exclusively breastfed as per the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) while just 13 percent of children are fed according to all recommended practices.