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The Times of India
02 Aug 2012
Allahabad India

A survey report that women in rural parts shy away from feeding their newborns in the first week of their birth due to misconceptions, has kept the officials of health department on their toes. They are making rounds of villages and blocks to ease this misconception. The report revealed that elder women in the families usually ask the mothers of newborns not to breastfeed the newborns and instead feed them with milk of cows, goats and buffaloes due to various misconceptions. However, officials are now focusing in the rural areas and promoting breastfeeding among mothers apprising them the benefits of breastfeeding.

Additional CMO, National Rural Health Mission, Dr Chandan Lal, told TOI: "We have assigned a special task to ANMs and ASHAs to convince pregnant women and apprise them about the benefits of breastfeeding. He added: "Health workers are also targeting families with rural background and asking them to promote breastfeeding as this is beneficial for infants. We have also been apprising mothers about the researches that have already proved the advantages of mother's milk for infant's development and growth. "

Deputy CMO, Dr Vivek Srivastava, told TOI: "Elaborate arrangements have been made to promote breastfeeding among mothers, health department officials are apprising families that every newborn should be given mother's milk within an hour of birth. With World Breastfeeding Day being observed on Wednesday, the health department is promoting the theme 'Understanding the past, planning for future' on the occasion."

Recalling that the breastfeeding percentage in UP, within an hour of birth, stands at 15.4% while the national figure is 40.5%, Dr Srivastava said: "Infants get better emotional and mental development who were given 'colostrums' (khees) after birth."

He added that colostrums has the ability to fight against any disease. That is the reason it is called natural immunization for children.

With the concept of breastfeeding, the health department is also making efforts to check the issues like infant mortality rate (IMR). As per officials, the IMR could be checked up to 20% through breastfeeding. Secondly, women who prefer breastfeeding have less chances of breast or ovary or uterus cancer.

Infants should be given breast milk within an hour of the birth and it should continue till six months. He added that breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborn the nutrients they need. Health officials recommend exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and to continue it with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

Deputy CMO, Dr S P Singh said: "There is an urgent need to protect, promote and support breastfeeding to make infants healthy and strong. The health department is making sincere efforts to educate women about the advantages of breastfeeding, this would surely bring desired results in days to come. Special emphasis has been paid to Soraon, Mauaima, Nawabganj, Kaurihar, Holagarh, Phulpur, Tharwai, Bahria, Utrav and Handia blocks."

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