Importance of Breastfeeding Highlighted at Event on World Breastfeeding Week

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Newborns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive than the other kids. Even a delay of a few hours after birth could pose life-threatening consequences. Skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulates the mother’s production of breast milk, including colostrum, also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’, which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.

In India, breastfeeding is a cultural norm and 95 per cent children at some point are breastfed in their early years. The challenge that India faces is to ensure that breastfeeding starts within the first hour after birth and that children are given only breast milk in the first six months after birth.

Dr. Shashi Panja, Minister of State for Women & Child Development and Social Welfare inaugurated this event and highlighted the significance of the issue during the inauguration ceremony of the World Breastfeeding Week event organized in Kolkata jointly by The Bengal Obstetric and Gynecological Society & UNICEF.

In West Bengal, Department of Women and Child Development jointly with Department of Health, UNICEF, BOGS and other partners will continue to reinforce the messages on the significance on early and exclusive breastfeeding throughout this week across the state. The state has also developed a comprehensive communication package called “Baro Kahon” with key messages on essential nutrition and Infant & Young Child Feeding and Nutrition, highlighting the significance of breastfeeding. The Anganwadi workers are using Baro Kahon for counselling the mothers on breastfeeding and other appropriate home care practices.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The WBW event in Kolkata highlighted the breastfeeding practices especially in the private sector and included discourses, debate and a panel discussion on addressing barriers and promoting breastfeeding as a public health priority.

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