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Mother's milk could save 1m lives

Tags: pregnancy

Early breastfeeding could save the lives of 830,000 babies throughout the world each year.

A mother's first milk, known medically as colostrum, is produced in late pregnancy and contains antibodies which kick-start the baby's immune system.

Children are three times more likely to survive if they drink colostrum in the "power hour" following birth, a global report by Save the Children found.

Giant steps have already been made in reducing child mortality, but a higher prevalence of breastfeeding could help slash that rate further still, the charity's Superfood for Babies report said.

Global breastfeeding rates are flatlining, with fewer women breastfeeding across East Asia and in some of Africa's most heavily populated nations like Ethiopia and Nigeria.

A lack of empowerment and education for women and a severe shortage of midwives and health workers in the developing world have contributed to the stagnation in the numbers breastfeeding, Save the Children said.

The charity also cited a lack of adequate maternity legislation and inappropriate marketing practices by some breast milk substitute companies as reasons for the lack of progress.

Justin Forsyth, Save the Children's chief executive, said: "Despite the benefits of breastfeeding being widely known in the developed world, and it being a free, natural way to protect a newborn baby, too little attention is being paid to help mums breastfeed in poorer countries."

Copyright Press Association 2013

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