Baby's First Vaccine and Essential Nourishment

– Dr. Krishna Kumar Vepakomma
World Breastfeeding Week, observed from August 1, is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness for breastfeeding worldwide. Originating in 1992 with support from governments, UNICEF, WHO, and other health institutions, the week advocates policy changes and improved infant feeding practices to benefit newborns and mothers.

This year’s theme, “Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents,” highlights the impact of workplace support, paid leave, and evolving parenting norms on breastfeeding. The campaign recognizes the significance of breastfeeding for both infants and mothers, offering numerous benefits for their health and well-being.

Breastfeeding is often referred to as a baby’s first vaccine, providing vital protection against potentially deadly diseases and ensuring optimal nourishment for their growth and development. Breast milk is a rich source of essential nutrition and antibodies, leading to reduced infections and better overall health for the child.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director- General of WHO, emphasizes the importance of promoting breastfeeding, as it acts as a critical lifeline for newborns. The campaign’s programs, conducted in over 170 countries, support mothers and emphasize breastfeeding’s immense significance. It has been estimated that breastfeeding saves over 800,000 children annually, aids in postpartum recovery for mothers, and reduces health risks.

Despite these benefits, only one in three children are breastfed, making awareness and support crucial to increasing breastfeeding rates and saving more lives. In the developed world, various factors such as urbanization, changing lifestyles, and the availability of formula milk and commercial baby foods have contributed to a decline in breastfeeding rates among working women.

This decline hampers infants’ access to the valuable health benefits offered by breast milk. Breastfeeding is ideally initiated within the first hour of a baby’s birth, providing essential antibodies for the baby’s developing immune system. For mothers who are unable to breastfeed directly, expressing milk is a viable option. Although certain conditions may prevent breastfeeding, it is generally recommended for both the baby and the mother’s health.

Despite its significance, only 41% of babies worldwide are exclusively breastfed for six months, falling short of the World Health Assembly’s target of raising this rate to 50% by 2025. Increasing global breastfeeding rates not only saves lives but also brings economic benefits. Governments have a crucial role to play in promoting and supporting breastfeeding, countering the influence of the baby food market, and ensuring the well-being of infants and mothers.

The Indian government, for instance, can play a vital role in promoting breastfeeding through policies that support new mothers, providing training to healthcare staff, and organizing awareness campaigns. By doing so, they can positively impact the health and development of the nation’s children and mothers. (Professor & Principal (Retd.), Rajiv Nagar, Hyderabad.)


Central Chronicle is daily English Newspaper of Chhattisgarh. Central Chronicle has own website it is first news website in Chhattisgarh.

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