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Breastfeeding in Developing Countries

In: Social Issues

Submitted By trberger
Words 1012
Pages 5
Taylor Berger
FSHN 342
Nutrition Case Study Report
January 24, 2016

Breastfeeding in Developing Countries

Referencing the material in section 1 of this course, we learned that maternal health in a mother is directly correlated to the health of her children from infancy and into childhood, especially for her female offspring. If an expecting mother is living in poverty and is not receiving the proper nutrition, she is not able to provide her fetus the efficient nutrients it needs in order to grow into a strong and healthy baby. Among many problems, poor maternal health can lead to increased infant mortality and low birth weight. Even after a mother gives birth in these developing countries, there is still many areas of concern as the child grows from infancy to childhood such as stunting, impaired cognitive abilities, and again, increased mortality. It is very important for a mother to receive the best maternal health that is possible regarding her available resources in order to give her children the best chances at a healthy life. Breastfeeding provides many health benefits to both the mother and the child. According to the Department of Health and Human Service Office on Women’s Health, breastfed infants experience less severe diarrhea, ear and respiratory infections, and are less likely to contract infectious and noninfectious diseases (2003). It also has a significant influence on a child’s development and growth (Bhutta, ZA, et al, 2011). Mothers who choose to breastfeed have less of a chance of being diagnosed with pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer, experience less bleeding after giving birth, and are able to return to their pre-pregnancy weight at a quicker rate (2003). Breastfeeding is also a way for mothers to feed their children at an extremely low cost compared to formula. However, mothers and infants can only positively be affected by these benefits if breastfeeding is carried out correctly. In 2010, 7.7 million children died before the age of 5 with 98% of the deaths occurring in underdeveloped nations (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013). Recent studies have shown that of these 98% of deaths, many occurred due to suboptimal breastfeeding (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013). Suboptimal breastfeeding deals with discarding colostrum, the usage of pre-lacteal feeds, and weaning the child off of breastfeeding before six months (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013). Discarding of the colostrum prevents newborns from receiving necessary antibodies needed to fight certain infections (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013). Suboptimal breastfeeding is unfortunately a common trend in developing countries, and in these nations, only up to 31% of infants are properly breastfed between two to five months (2015). The World Health Organization recommendations for proper breastfeeding are as followed: initiate breastfeeding one hour after birth, a child should receive exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of six months, and for the child to be continually breastfed until 24 months (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013). According to a piece published in BMC Medicine, continuous breastfeeding can contribute to the reduction of child mortality rates in developing countries (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013).
In order to increase awareness about the benefits and the proper practices of breastfeeding, UNICEF, a program aimed at aiding mothers and children in underdeveloped countries, teamed up with the World Health Organization, and together they have created and made available well-established programs to educate mothers in developing nations (Carnahan, E, et al, 2013). Studies regarding the effectiveness of these programs were done and it was discovered that exclusive breastfeeding rates increased, a majority of the impact being in developing countries (Bhutta, ZA, et al, 2011). Researchers have found that lack of education and support is a leading cause in suboptimal breastfeeding (Bhutta, ZA, et al, 2011). These programs provide a way for women in poor, underdeveloped nations a way to educate themselves to benefit not only their own lives, but their children’s’ lives as well.
Breastfeeding provides both long term and short term health benefits, and exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by the World Health Clinic for the first six months of a child’s life. However, suboptimal breastfeeding has become a common trend, especially in developing countries, and it has been linked to a substantial number of deaths in children below the age of five. The programs that UNICEF and the World Health Organization have implemented regarding education about proper breastfeeding have helped lead to increasing rates of exclusive breastfeeding in many countries, but especially in developing nations. The efforts going into these programs need to be maintained to ensure that these women and new mothers the proper education that they are entitled to in order to help improve the quality of their and their children’s lives and in order to help decrease the child mortality rate.

References 2003. Benefits of Breastfeeding. Nutrition in Clinical Care. 6(3), pp. 125-131. Available at:; Accessed January 24, 2016. Bhutta, ZA, Imdad, A, Yakoob, MY. 2011. Effect of Breastfeeding Promotion Interventions on Breastfeeding Rates. BMC Public Health, 11(S3):S24-32. Available at:; Accessed January 25, 2016. "Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition." Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition. Unite For Sight, 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. Carnahan, E, Gakidou, E, Roberts, TJ. 2013. Can Breastfeeding Promote Child Health Equity? BMC Public Health, 11(254), pp. 254. Available at:; Accessed January 24, 2016.

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