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Breastfeeding at birth can reduce infant mortality

New research by UNICEF suggests that breastfeeding babies immediately after birth can prevent neonatal deaths.

Posted: 17 August 2007
by Monica Stylli

The first 24 hours after birth can be some of the most daunting, especially if you are getting to grips with breastfeeding.

Research by charity UNICEF shows that breastfeeding babies immediately after birth can prevent a significant number of neonatal deaths in developing countries.

A recently published study from Ghana suggests that 16 per cent of neonatal deaths can be prevented by breastfeeding infants from day one. This figure rises to 22 per cent if mothers begin breastfeeding in the first hour after birth.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world with around 10 per cent of babies dying before their first birthday. This is despite the rate of exclusively breastfed babies until the age of six months doubling to 30 per cent since 1990.

Early breastfeeding provides the nutrients that babies need to fight disease and to develop a healthy body. UNICEF has estimated that exclusively breastfeeding to the age of six months could save 1.3 million children under the age of five each year.

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UNICEF, breastfeeding, infant, feeding, neonatal, birth, mortality

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