By Daily Guide
Breastfeeding consistently has been associated with higher performance in intelligence tests in children and adolescents with a pooled increase of 3.4 IQ points.
Presenting a paper on the Lancet breastfeeding series within the context of Ghana at a technical meeting on breastfeeding in Accra, Dr Priscilla Wobil, Health Specialist, Maternal, Neonatal Health, UNICEF, said 72 percent of the effect of breastfeeding on income is explained by the increased in IQ.
“Prolonged breastfeeding duration increases intelligence resulting in higher educational attainments and higher incomes,” she said.
She mentioned that according to the Lancet series on breastfeeding, there is an 88 percent chance of survival among children who exclusively breastfeed, adding that scaling up breastfeeding universally would substantially contribute to the attainment of the newborn targets by 2018 and the SDGs by 2030.
Dr Gyikua Plange-Rhule, Paediatrician at the School of Medical Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), making a case for more investment in exclusive breastfeeding, adding that exclusive breastfeeding is a powerful intervention for health and development that benefits children and women alike.
“Political institutions need to demonstrate they appreciate that exclusive breastfeeding promotion saves lives and money urging them to exercise their authority by removing structural and societal barriers that hinder women’s ability to breastfeed,” she said.
Dr Plange-Rhule added that a review of the practice shows that the negative societal attitudes as shown by inadequate maternity leave, lack of opportunity to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace, and restrictions on breastfeeding in public need to be changed to encourage more mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies.
She said regulatory authorities also need to regulate the breast milk substitute industry which undermines breastfeeding as the best feeding practice in early life.
“Democratic governments are entrusted to protect and promote well-being in the communities that elect them—this includes breastfeeding,” she stated.
Coordinator of Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), Eunice Sackey, giving an overview of baby-friendly institutions in the country, pointed out that so far, 538 public and private health facilities have been designated as baby-friendly in the country.
She, however, mentioned that a review of the baby-friendly health facilities showed that standards of the facilities are not maintained due to lack of adequate funds.
She, thus, suggested a relaunch of the BFHI, reassessment of BF health facilities and the revival of mother support groups to help mothers exclusively breastfeed.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri