breastfeeding symbol 298.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The United Nations Children's Fund has opened a worldwide campaign this week to encourage breast-feeding to reduce infant mortality.
Evie Adams, a breast-feeding adviser and a member of UNICEF-Israel, said that if all babies were nursed from birth until they were six months old, 13 percent of all deaths under the age of five could be prevented.
Running from August 1 to 7, the event is being held in cooperation with the World Health Organization and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.
Breastfeeding reduces by half the risk of a child developing type 1 diabetes and recurrent ear infections, according to the campaign organizers. Babies who are not breast-fed are at a 25% higher risk of becoming overweight and are 250% more likely to develop asthma and respiratory infections. In addition, breast-feeding during the first six months of life cuts the risk of diarrhea by half and significantly reduces the danger of sudden infant death syndrome. Nursing babies also are less likely to suffer from urinary infections.
The campaign is stressing the importance of mothers' beginning to nurse within an hour of delivery, as immediate breast-feeding increases the likelihood that the baby will develop healthy nursing habits and breast-feed exclusively during his or her first six months of life.