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Early initiation of breastfeeding: The best start for every newborn

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UNICEF, WHO. Capture the Moment – Early initiation of breastfeeding: The best start for every newborn. New York: UNICEF; 2018.

Whether delivery takes place in a hut in a rural village or a hospital in a major city, putting newborns to the breast within the first hour after birth gives them the best chance to survive, grow and develop to their full potential. These benefits make the early initiation of breastfeeding a key measure of essential newborn care in the Every Newborn Action Plan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend that children initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life – meaning no other foods or liquids are provided, including water. From the age of 6 months, children should begin eating safe and adequate complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond.

The early initiation of breastfeeding – putting newborns to the breast within the first hour of life – is critical to newborn survival and to establishing breastfeeding over the long term. When breastfeeding is delayed after birth, the consequences can be life-threatening – and the longer newborns are left waiting, the greater the risk.

Improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of more than 800,000 children under 5 every year, the vast majority of whom are under six months of age. Beyond survival, there is growing evidence that breastfeeding boosts children’s brain development and provides protection against overweight and obesity. Mothers also reap important health benefits from breastfeeding, including a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes.4 The life-saving protection of breastfeeding is particularly important in humanitarian settings, where access to clean water, adequate sanitation and basic services is often limited.

This report presents the global situation of early initiation of breastfeeding and describes trends over the past ten years. Drawing from an analysis of early initiation rates among babies delivered by skilled birth attendants, the report describes key findings and examines the factors that both help and hinder an early start to breastfeeding. The report outlines key learnings from countries where rates of early initiation have improved or deteriorated and concludes with recommendations for policy and programmatic action.

Disponível Em: <https://www.who.int/>