NUTRITION CORNER: Breast feeding linked to nutritional status

Based on the results of the 7″‘ National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI—DOST) on infant feeding practices, the percentage of exclusive breastfeeding is only 8.6 percent, while the percentage of feeding with other milk or in combination with complementary feeding is high at 55.4 percent.

When malnutrition was disaggregated by single year, the prevalence increased sharply between the child’s birth to one year old where underweight more than doubled from 12.4 percent to 30.3 percent, stunting almost tripled from 8.6 percent to 24.4 percent, and wasting more than doubled from 6.7 percent to 14.0 percent form 2003 to 2008.

The low level of breastfeeding practices among infants and young children is consistent with the high prevalence of malnutrition among the D-5 year age group where 22.2 percent and 27.9 percent are underweight and stunted, respectively.

Infant and young child feeding is said to be the most critical ultimate care for growth and development. What the infant and young child eat has an impact on nutritional status, growth, development, health and survival that will determine human capacity and productivity during adulthood.

There is no best way to feed an infant to have the best start in life than what Mother Nature offers in breast milk.

Breastmilk is said to be the superior and unequalled milk for infants as it provides all the energy and nutrients the baby needs for the first six months of life. Exclusive breastfeeding promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases.

With the important role of breastmilk in the infant’s health and survival, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend that infants receive only breastmilk from birth to six months and provide appropriate complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age and beyond.

Infant feeding practices have a corresponding effect on children’s nutritional status and need urgent attention from the health and nutrition sectors and other stakeholders.#