Thursday, 15 May 2008

Breastfeeding signficiantly cuts death rate in babies

Breastfeeding an infantImage via WikipediaInitiation of breast-feeding within the first hour after birth or during the first day of life is associated with a significant reduction in neonatal mortality, according to results of a study from Nepal, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy.

Breast-feeding was initiated in 3.4% of babies within the first hour of birth, in 56.6% by 24 hours and in 97.2% by 72 hours after birth.

In this cohort study, two hundred and ninety seven neonatal deaths were recorded between the 2nd and 28th days of life.

"There was a trend toward higher mortality with increasing delay in breast-feeding initiation," the researchers reported. Compared with initiation within 1 hour, the relative risk for mortality was 1.95, 2.8 and 4.19 among babies where breastfeeding started during the first day, second day and after the third day, respectively.

The researchers also noted that mortality risk was also nearly twice as high (1.77 times higher) among partially breast-fed neonates as compared to those exclusively breast-fed. This is a particularly important finding for the UK, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, as many mothers choose to use formula and breastfeed.

The researchers estimated that up to 19.1% of all neonatal deaths may have be avoided with universal initiation of breast-feeding within the first hour or day.

Breast milk (called colostrum) produced in the first three days is rich in antibodies and immunoglobulins (which can protect your baby from disease), protein, minerals and vitamins A, E and B12. It is a rich source of probiotics which also help support the immune system, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown. It is highly likely the colostrum had a significant protective effect and reduced the likelihood of mortality.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2. I have also written a free e-book on how you can improve your pregnancy diet to maximise your chances of producing enough milk to breastfeed and on the benefits of breastfeeding, which can be obtained by clicking on my link.

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