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UNICEF: Romania has among lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe: Breast fed babies 14 times less likely to die

Fewer mothers in Romania breastfeed their babies than almost anywhere else in the EU, according to new information released by UNICEF in partnership with the local authorities. Only 12.6 percent of Romanian women breastfeed their children – among the lowest rates in Europe. UNICEF’s breastfeeding week is drawing to a close ( August 1 – August 7 ) and the organization is keen to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding over manufactured milk compounds. “If breastfeeding were promoted more effectively and women were protected from aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, we would see more children survive and thrive, with lower rates of disease and lower rates of malnutrition and stunting,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

According to the studies, exclusive use of breast milk to feed infants in Romania is over 50 percent higher in urban areas than in rural parts of the country – 15.4 percent against 9.8 percent. Only 56 percent of Romanian mothers-to-be talk to their doctors during pregnancy about the benefits of breastfeeding. And those benefits are huge, according to scientific research. A report in medical journal the Lancet, quoted by UNICEF, found that “a non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed child.” UNICEF blames unethical aggressive marketing by companies that produce baby milk, along with weak governmental action and poor education on health benefits for the low global breastfeeding rates.

The organization estimates that around a million deaths of children aged 5 or less could be prevented each year in the developing world, if governments adopted better policies on breastfeeding. “Breast feeding reduces infant mortality, risk of infection and necrotizing ulcerative enteritis in premature infants. Children exclusively breastfed have a lower mortality and morbidity rates and get sick less often and less easily. Unfortunately, most of the women in Romania consider breastfeeding restrictive. They believe that they are not allowed to eat many foods, which is completely false. Mothers should be well fed and relaxed, because stress can decrease the amount of milk produced,” said Dr Adrian Craciun, the Head of the neonatal department at Maternitatea Cantacuzino .

Liam Lever, liam@romania-insider.com

photo source: photoxpress