Doctors and experts hashed out the age-old debate on whether breast milk or bottle milk is better for a baby at the International Breastfeeding Week Seminar, organised by the Sindh health department and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday.
The indicators of breastfeeding are extremely low in Pakistan, said the World Food Programme manager, Dr Durre Shehwar Khan. She said that breast milk not only provides nutrition, hydration and protection against infection and allergies for the babies, but is also beneficial for the mothers.
Dr Shehwar said that mothers should start breastfeeding the baby within one hour of birth and continue to do so till six months of age as it meets all dietary requirements of the baby. She added that it is also proven that babies who are breastfed are more confident, and have a greater IQ.
Dispelling the myths about breastfeeding, Dr Shehwar said that it is wrong to say that malnourished mothers should not follow the practice or that the mother should stop feeding if the baby has diarrhea.
Dr Yasir Ehtesham from UNICEF opposed artificial feeding, saying that it is not sterile, it is costly in time, resources and care, and is more dangerous as difficulties in cleaning the bottle could lead to infections.
Dr Shehwar said that the government of Pakistan passed the ordinance of children’s nutrition for the protection and promotion of mother’s milk in 2002 and in 2009 which states that no product can be advertised as a substitute to mother’s milk.
But there is no strict implementation in Pakistan and ads of baby supplements and cereals can be seen everywhere, she pointed out.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.