Gabriel Udeh, kaduna
The Kaduna State Office of the National Orientation Agency, NOA, and UNICEF, has advised nursing mothers against the use of baby formula also known as Breast Milk Substitute, BMS.
They gave the advice in Gumel, Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, during a community dialogue to enlighten parents, caregivers and community leaders on ways to prevent malnutrition among under-five children.
UNICEF Focal Person, NOA Kaduna, Malam Lawal Haruna, noted that the continued use of BMS among nursing mothers was counterproductive on the development of the child.
According to him, giving a child BMS not only affect the cognitive development of a child but incur huge economic loses on the family.
“Research has shown that a 500 gram of an average baby formula cost N7,000 and a child will need 40 of such in six months, meaning that a family will spend N280,000 in six months on baby formula.
“This implies that if a family earns about N150,000 in six months, such a family will spend 180 percent of such income, thereby pushing the family into huge debt.”
Haruna pointed out that no artificial baby milk gives the needed nutrients that a breastmilk gives to a baby such as enzymes, growth factors, hormones, immunological with sure growth and development outcomes.
The official added that breastfeeding also contributes to women’s health by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and helps to increase the spacing between pregnancies.
He identified optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices as the best option which provides social and economic benefits to the family and the nation at minimal or no cost.
He said that after six months of exclusive breastfeeding, parents and caregivers are advised to introduce complementary feeding using locally available food materials and not junk foods.
“After six months, a mother is expected to complement the breast milk with other foods, because at that time, the body system would need more nutrients than breast milk could provide.
“A mother could prepare complimentary food from rice, corn millet and other grains or tubers for carbohydrate and from palm oil and fortified vegetable oil for farts and oil.
“Fish, meat, milk, egg, crayfish, groundnuts, soya beans and beans in homes are good source of protein for a child.
“For vitamins and minerals, a baby should be provided with carrots, vegetables, tomatoes, onions and fruits such as orange, bananas, mangoes, pineapples and melon among others.
“A parent or caregiver can prepare rice and vegetable stew or yam pottage with crayfish and vegetable and could also prepare pap with groundnut paste and a spoon of palm oil or ripe plantain with crayfish and vegetable,” Haruna said.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, Mrs. Chinwe Eziefe, noted that to make a headway in promoting breastfeeding among nursing mothers as against using BMS, the whole community must be involved, particularly husbands in supporting the women.
Eziefe said that UNICEF and other development partners working in the state would continue to provide the needed support in ensuring that most mothers breastfeed their babies and provide adequate complementary food.
NOA in collaboration UNICEF is engaging 5,000 community members in 50 communities to promote adequate infant and young child feeding to curb malnutrition in the state.