UN survey shows increase in breastfeeding in Somalia

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-02 00:51:35|Editor: yan
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MOGADISHU, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations-backed survey has revealed a marked increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates in Somalia.

The survey released by the UNICEF on Tuesday as the World commemorates World Breastfeeding Week, shows that three in 10 mothers are exclusively breastfeeding their babies in the first six months.

"The increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates in Somalia is an indication of efforts, commitment and investment in promoting exclusive breastfeeding," Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF Somalia Representative said.

The Horn of Africa nation has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world with one in seven Somali children dying before their fifth birthday.

Rates of infant and child deaths and child malnutrition are closely linked to whether babies are breastfed and what young children are given to eat.

Some 30 percent of women interviewed in a survey by UNICEF and the Food and Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said they had exclusively breastfed their child for six months. A huge increase from just over 5 percent in 2009.

"Despite these gains, more efforts are still required to sustain and further improve infant and young child feeding practices in Somalia," Lauwerier said.

The survey of feeding practices for children under two was carried out in over 2,700 households around the country who were asked about breastfeeding practices, what and when they fed their young children.

The vast majority, nine out of ten mothers said their children were breastfed at some point during in the first year.

Importantly, eight out of ten said they breastfed their baby within the first hour of birth, which is vital and significantly reduces deaths within the first 28 days.

However only three out of 10 mothers breastfed exclusively during the first six months, contrary to health advice.

The survey revealed that access to food and money, as well as education, influenced feeding practices.

Educated mothers were found to be more likely to provide children with nutrient-dense diets.