... to protect every feeding mother and her infant from man-made milk as babies need only the Mom-made one.
This was the theme of the 1st World breastfeeding Conference 2012 which was hosted jointly in Delhi by the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
There is compelling evidence to believe that Mother's milk is the cheapest investment in child survival, growth and investment. It is that magical potion which wards off malnutrition and offers protection against many killer diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. On the other hand, artificial formula milk increases not only the risk of life threatening childhood infections, but also of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Yet only 38% of the world's infants (92 million out of 136 million born every year) are exclusively breastfed for the 1st 6 months of their lives. An overwhelming 62% of them are fed artificially either totally or partially. Initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth can reduce neonatal mortality by 20%, but more than half the world's newborns are deprived of this too. Suboptimal breastfeeding is responsible for 44% of all infant deaths due to acute respiratory infections. The term 'exclusive breastfeeding' has to be understood in the right context, as it entails giving only mother's milk and nothing else (not even water) to the baby during the 1st six months of life.
In India, of the 26 million babies born every year, a whopping 20 million are deprived of optimal feeding on mother's milk which is naturally sterilized, packed with nutrients and antibodies, easily available, and is free of cost. There is no other food that is more locally produced, affordable and healthier than mother's milk. In contrast, formula milk, despite being very expensive and not healthy, finds many takers in our country due to aggressive but misleading marketing tactics of baby food manufacturing companies.