The trend of breastfeeding has shown an upward trend, initial breastfeeding has been nearly doubled in last decade from 23.4 per cent to 41.6 per cent, according to the data recent data published by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
There has been a significant improvement in breastfeeding rates across the country and Union Ministry has launched a new program Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA) to create awareness among peoples, mainly mothers.
ASHA workers are encouraged for reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers and provide information on benefits and techniques of successful breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Week is observed in the first week of August to focus attention on the promotion and support of breastfeeding. This year's theme is 'Sustaining Breastfeeding'.
Around 23 states have started implementing various activities under the programme such one-day sensitisation of health staffs, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) training of staffs at health facilities, communication activities using mass media and mid-media etc.
Around 2.5 lakhs ASHAs and 40,000 health staffs have been sensitized for breastfeeding promotion strategies under the programme. Around 2,800 health facility staffs (MOs, SNs and ANMs) have been trained in four days' IYCF training, the statement said.
According to the RML hospital, the health ministry has planned various activities at the national level during this week in association with Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP).
"Breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20 per cent of newborn deaths. Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhea than children who are exclusively breastfed. These two are leading causes of death in children aged under five years", said JP Nadda, Health minister.
Children who were not breastfed are also at an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome among others. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits, breastfeeding also has a tremendous impact on improved IQ.