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13% Infant Deaths Linked To Inadequate Breastfeeding – UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that low exclusive breast feeding and inappropriate complementary feeding was responsible for increasing rate of stunted growth among children in Nigeria.

Making a presentation at a workshop on child malnutrition at Ibadan, the UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mrs Ada Ezeogu added that 33% of children are already stunted following reports by the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHNS) survey of 2015.

She further explained that children who are exclusively breastfed including with the right complementary feed, after six months have better chances of survival than children who are not.

Her words, “An estimated 13% of child deaths could be averted if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed their infants for the first six months of life.

“If the same proportion of mothers provided adequate and timely complementary feeding for their infants from 6 to 24 months, a further 6% of child deaths could be prevented.

“Breastfed children have at least 6 times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children,” she said.

Ezeogu explained that the effects of malnutrition in children, goes a long way to not only affect their learning ability when in school but may also affect the female child when she becomes a mother.

“a malnourished mother will not produce a healthy baby as she is already lacking in nutrients required by her baby,” she added.

Urging mothers to pay attention to feeding of their babies especially for the first two years, the nutrition Specialist maintained that the children from 0 to two years are still undergoing a critical stage of growth and development that requires the right nutrition.

In the same vein, another Nutrition Specialist from the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Omotayo Ogunbunmi revealed that while Nigeria tops the list of states in the sub Sahara with malnourished children, it’s second in the world with stunted, wasted and underweight children.

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