Doctors highlight benefits of mother’s milk for infant.

Ludhiana, March 24:
In the ongoing five-day training programme on nutrition education organised by Food and Nutrition Board, Senior Paediatrician ESIC Hospital Dr Rajinder Gulati, spoke on appropriate infant and young-child feeding.

Highlighting importance of early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for six months, he said that breastmilk was sufficient in all aspects for the first six months of life. ‘‘However, the period between six months to two years is also of critical importance in a child’s growth and development. In many countries, feeding of these children does not receive adequate emphasis in child health programmes. As a result, malnutrition in young children is very common. Undernourished children do not grow and develop optimally, whatever amount of food they consume later in life,’’ he said.

He further said that malnutrition is also associated with deficiency of iron, vitamin A and other nutrients, which effect their development. Children who do not grow well have increased risk of illness and take longer to recover from illness.

Dr Gulati, drawing attention to the importance of complementary feeding, said that from about six months onwards there is a gap between total energy needs and the energy provided by breast milk. The gap increases as the child gets older. Therefore, children who are given complementary feeding after six months of exclusive breastfeeding grow well and are active and content. In addition, at this age, babies’ digestive systems are mature enough to digest a range of foods.

Adding complementary feed too early could be harmful for both the mother and the baby, was another point he highlighted.

He added that in such condition complementary feed takes place of breastmilk, making it difficult to meet child’s nutrition needs. This may also increase risk of illness and diarrhoea because the child gets less of the protective factors which are present in breastmilk. Also, complementary feed may not be as clean as breastmilk.

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