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Breast Feeding - The Key in Fighting Child Mortality in Africa

ids low in nutrients, are often given as substitutes which can damage the digestion and expose the baby to disease. Another advantage of breast feeding is the warmth that is offered to the child, thereby reducing the risk of hypothermia.

The results of the survey are seen as particularly significant for Africa, where infant mortality rates are high and no cultural bars exists towards early breastfeeding - unlike parts of India and Bangladesh, where many people believe that colostrum should not be used. However = the major bar to breast-feeding in Africa has turned out to be HIV. While in Ghana, only about 4 per cent of the population has HIV, South Africa is thought to have 5.5 million sufferers out of a population of 47 million. The World Health Organization has urged mothers who know they have HIV to use artificial milk.

Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, said: "This groundbreaking research could help save one million children's lives every year. What's so exciting about it is that the solution doesn't need costly medicines. We just need to get across the simple message to women that, unless they have HIV, breast-feeding from the time they give birth is not only best - it will increase the chances of their baby surviving."

He added: "We need to support ministries of health, Unicef, the World Health Organisation and others to tackle the underlying reasons why, in some cultures, breast-feeding in the first few days is discouraged."

Source-Newswise
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