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DNA India
By Priya Adhyaru-Majithia
Ahmedabad, India

During its initial three months in this world, an infant gets mother’s milk and cuddles -- that develop a sense of security which helps to beat stress, anxiety and depression during adulthood, say psychologists and paediatric experts.

These and other illuminating facts and research findings will be highlighted at various workshops, seminars and counselling sessions in the city during Breast Feeding Week, August 1 to 8.

Dr Devang Parikh, president of the Academy of Paediatrics, Ahmedabad which has organised seminars at Civil Hospital, VS Hospital, and lectures and poster presentation for public awareness regarding the importance of breast feeding during this week, said, "Breast milk is nature’s formula which gives complete nutrition to infants, which not only ensures good health during infancy, but also helps fight stress and depression at a later stage during adulthood."

However, breast feeding is often mistakenly considered as unnecessary since many young mothers and working professionals are mistakenly led to believe that formula-milks are a good replacement for breast milk.

"We want to emphatically communicate that breast milk must not be replaced by synthetic formula milk," added Parikh.

In India, more than 1.4 million babies die before they reach their first birthday and one million of infant die within the first month. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines note that starting breast feeding within one hour of the child’s birth can avert 22 % of infant deaths during the first month. The infants which are breastfed for initial six months are well equipped with antibodies and respond to vaccines faster.

"Infants who receive breast milk for a minimum period of the first six months and maximum up to 12 months, remain healthier and face 10 times lesser risk of hospitalisation during their first year. They also are less likely to develop childhood obesity," said Parikh.

While breast milk protects infants against ear infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney infections, septicemia (blood poisoning), allergies, asthma, eczema, and promotes facial structure development, it also helps infants in developing higher IQ say, experts.

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