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Celebrated in more than 120 countries around the world, "World Breastfeeding Week" is an annual event held every year from August 1 to August 7. The celebration provides wonderful opportunity of refreshing knowledge or setting agenda for nursing mothers on breastfeeding for a whole week.

Breast milk contains the entire nutrient that an infant needs for the first six months of life. The act of breastfeeding builds a strong emotional connection between the mother and infant, a bond which lasts a lifetime and evidence-based research indicates that infants and children who are breastfed are at a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), infections of the ear, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract, asthma, meningitis and obesity.

"For infants to survive, grow and develop as they should, they need to be exclusively breastfed". Breastfeeding is also a proven primary prevention strategy, protecting both infants and mothers from a host of chronic and acute diseases and conditions and building a foundation for life-long health and wellness. Breastfeeding should however continue till at least one year of age.

Isokpunwu stated that averagely, women breastfeed their babies for only 19 months while a lot of them gave babies water alongside breast milk in the first six months of life. Dr Sundus Al Ajram, paediatrician and worldwide consultant in breastfeeding, will talk about how to motivate mothers to resort to breastfeeding exclusively, starting right from childbirth and until their children are six months old. Breastfeeding is important, as it significantly boosts a baby's immune system and helps protects them from various illnesses. There are also cultural challenges to women being able to breastfeed, and it is heartening that all 50 states now allow breastfeeding in public. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

Speakers at a post-rally discussion in Rajshahi on Thursday mentioned that sufficient breastfeeding is of paramount importance for physical and mental development of babies.

"But these are actually signs that the woman's body has adjusted to the baby's feeding requirement".

This year's World Breastfeeding Week should help us to recommit to doing more to help every child, everywhere, realize the lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding, no matter where they live. During the same period, the rates of early initiation of breastfeeding decreased from 40 per cent to 27 per cent. In Gurgaon, 60 per cent of children under age 6 months are exclusively breastfed while 60 per cent children under age 3 years are breastfed within one hour of birth, the NFHS data states. Other challenges can arise around a woman's milk supply or an infant's ability to latch on to the breast.


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