Pioneer, Bhopal December 26, 2006
Girish Sharma | Bhopal
Despite several schemes launched by the Madhya Pradesh Government, only 21.6 per cent newborn children in the age group of 0 to 5 in the State are breastfed from their mothers.This fact came to light in the latest 2005-2006 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), released by the Government of India. The State Government introduced a slew of new programmes to encourage mothers breastfeed infants as they require colostrum immediately after birth.
Colostrum - mother's first milk - is like a natural vaccine and helps the child to fight with number of infections in the life. As per the study as published in Lancet the medical journal, infant mortality can by brought down by about 19 per cent if the child is given colostrum immediately after birth and is breastfed by the mother for six months, followed by complementary feeding from six months till two years. Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. As per sample registration system data of Government of India released this year, 79 out of every 100 children, born in the state die before their first birthday. In case of the colostrum feeding that is mothers first milk, as per the NFHS III survey only 14.6 per cent children under the age of three years are breastfed within one hour. In rural area only 13.3 per cent are breastfed while in urban areas it is 20.3 per cent. Though there has been a slight rise from an old figure of NFHS II (1998 -99) figure of 8.9 per cent, but still it is abysmally low.
Many myths and superstitions are prevalent in rural and tribal areas of the state regarding breastfeeding and is cited as one the reasons for low percentage of breastfeeding.