Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. Colostrum, the topics for young children, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. WHO produces these infogrpahics to raise awareness on breastfeeding for its encouragement. A: Up to what age can a baby stay well nourished by just being breastfed? An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight. In pregnant women VAD causes night blindness and may increase the risk of maternal mortality. Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in more than half of all countries, especially in Africa and South-East Asia, hitting hardest young children and pregnant women in low-income countries. Crucial for maternal and child survival, supplying adequate vitamin A in high-risk areas can significantly reduce mortality.
Conversely, its absence causes a needlessly high risk of disease and death. For children, lack of vitamin A causes severe visual impairment and blindness, and significantly increases the risk of severe illness, and even death, from such common childhood infections as diarrhoeal disease and measles. For pregnant women in high-risk areas, vitamin A deficiency occurs especially during the last trimester when demand by both the unborn child and the mother is highest. The mother’s deficiency is demonstrated by the high prevalence of night blindness during this period. The impact of VAD on mother-to-child HIV transmission needs further investigation. To successfully combat VAD, short-term interventions and proper infant feeding must be backed up by long-term sustainable solutions. Vitamin A is a crucial component.
Since breast milk is a natural source of vitamin A, promoting breastfeeding is the best way to protect babies from VAD. 6 months and 6 years of age can reduce overall child mortality by a quarter in areas with significant VAD. However, because breastfeeding is time-limited and the effect of vitamin A supplementation capsules lasts only 4-6 months, they are only initial steps towards ensuring better overall nutrition and not long-term solutions. Cultivating the garden, both literally and figuratively, is the next phase necessary to achieve long-term results. Food fortification takes over where supplementation leaves off.