Tufton joins Big Baby Shower campaign promoting breastfeeding
Known for its unmatched ability to prevent malnutrition in infants, breastfeeding has for some time been a private, personal and controversial topic. However, with the World Health Organization (WHO) figures showing that 38 per cent of infants globally are exclusively breastfed, the Ministry of Health wants the act of breastfeeding to be normalised to prevent and protect against certain non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, who toured the maternity ward at the University of the West Indies Hospital last Thursday and endorsed the Big Baby Shower campaign, said that NCDs have not been given much focus in Jamaica. However, through the Jamaica Moves programme, this is changing. Since NCDs are essentially lifestyle diseases, he said nutrition plays an important role and, therefore, can be prevented - breastfeeding is a single intervention that has an impact on combatting this.
"I want to stress here today that we need to encourage more mothers to breastfeed, as breastfeeding is unrivalled in its ability to protect mothers and children against numerous NCDs," Tufton said.
According to the WHO, breastfeeding protects mothers by increasing birth spacing, reducing risk of post-partum haemorrhage, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. The WHO further states that for each year a mother breastfeeds, her risk of developing invasive breast cancer decreases 6 per cent. Improving breastfeeding practices could potentially prevent an additional 20,000 deaths globally each year from breast cancer. Optimal breastfeeding practices could therefore have a life-saving impact for thousands of women.
Tufton encouraged mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least the first six months of life, as this will benefit both them and their child up until adulthood.
The WHO states that there is growing evidence that breastfeeding decreases the prevalence of overweight/obesity and Type II diabetes in children later in life. In addition to preventing NCDs, breastfeeding has the power to save more than 800,000 children's lives each year, by providing babies' first anti-body and growth factor filled immunisation against infections.
"I understand that breastfeeding can be challenging to some mothers; however, I hope that the little knowledge I shared with you today will encourage you to use breastfeeding not only as a strategy to reduce NCDs but for ensuring your baby has a healthy start at a wonderful life," he said.
The minister also handed out bags to the mothers, comprising gifts from Smart Eggs and Kirk Distributors.
A Big Baby Shower by B3 Parenting Magazine, now in its seventh staging, provides a single destination where new and expectant parents can receive product and service information and practical resources, all pertaining to the world of parenting. It will be held on Saturday, July 1 at ATL Automotive Ltd, 1C-3 Oxford Road, and will run from 12 p.m.-8 p.m.