45% mothers are not breastfeeding children

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According to the report of Demographic and Health Surveys 2016, only 55 percent of children are breastfed within one hour of birth and only 66 percent of the children are exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Breastfeeding also provides lifelong benefits for baby, including reduced obesity and diabetes.

Despite the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for six months, it is estimated that 78 million babies across the world or three in five babies are not breastfed in the first hour of life.

In support of this effort, the Michigan Breastfeeding Network has announced a statewide initiative to provide continuity of care for mothers and babies.

All babies should be put to their mother's breast within an hour of their birth for breast feeding recommends the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

"Capture the Moment", which analyses data from 76 countries, finds that despite the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding, too many newborns are left waiting too long for different reasons.

The researchers behind the report state that this delay in initiation of breastfeeding can raise the risk of infant death.

August 1 to August is observed as the World Breastfeeding Week globally.

It says that only 0.6 per cent births occur at baby friendly hospitals in Bangladesh. This risk of death was around 50 percent in babies who are breast fed for the first time at 24 hours after birth.

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Of the 129 countries whose data is available, only 22 now meet this target.

It also notes that skin-to-skin contact, along with suckling of the breast, stimulates the mother's production of breastmilk, including colostrum, also called the baby's "first vaccine", which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.

Earlier studies cited in the report showed that delaying breastfeeding between two and 23 hours increases an infant's risk of dying by 33 percent.

A new report - jointly published on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, to coincide with the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week- observed mothers in 76 low and middle-income countries.

"Almost all women are able to breastfeed, provided they are given the right information and support".

The SA Breast Milk Reserve has said only a third of South African children under 6 months old were exclusively breastfed. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in his statement said, "Breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life".

"We must urgently scale up support to mothers - be it from family members, healthcare workers, employers and governments, so they can give their children the start they deserve", he said.

There should be more community awareness, increased number of breast feeding counsellors and also stricter measures against marketing of breast milk substitutes and formula.