This week is World Breastfeeding Week – a celebration, as well as an opportunity to continue to push forward the protecting, promoting and supporting of breastfeeding.
The health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for mother and baby are well documented, not to mention the convenience and cost advantages. Early initiation of breastfeeding (defined as the provision of breast milk to a baby within one hour of birth) plays an important role in the establishment of breastfeeding, with far reaching additional consequences. A recent study completed by Alive and Thrive shows the following benefits to early breastfeeding:
- In low-resource, high mortality settings where infection causes a large proportion of newborn deaths, early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding can substantially reduce child mortality.
- Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour can help prevent neonatal deaths caused by sepsis, pneumonia, and diarrhea and may also prevent hypothermia-related deaths, especially in preterm and low birthweight infants.
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