Spreading the word about the benefits of breast milk | Bangkok Post: multimedia

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Although breast milk is widely acknowledged to be the most nutritious food for infants, a Unicef report in 2007 showed that only 5.4% of Thai mothers were exclusively breastfeeding their children from birth to six months.

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The number of Thai mothers breastfeeding their children in the first six months of life increased to 29% in 2009, following government campaigns to promote breast milk, according to the Ministry of Public Health. But the rate is still lower than global standard. Photo by Chumsak Kanoknan.

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Breast milk is free and can be stored in the freezer for up to three months, but the Ministry of Public Health estimates that Thailand spends approximately 24 billion baht each year on infant formula and breast milk substitutes for babies.

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Many hospitals are trying to support mothers to breastfeed their children in the first hour after birth, so that babies can benefit from drinking antibody-rich Colostrum, which the mother's body produces in the late stages of pregnancy and is replaced by ordinary breast milk after three to five days.

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In August 2012, the Thai cabinet approved a resolution to curtail the marketing and promotion of infant formula and breast milk substitutes in all medical and health care facilities.

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Breast milk is crucial to child development, but the proportion of women who exclusively breastfeed their babies in Thailand is the lowest in Asia. The charity Unicef is promoting exclusive breastfeeding as part of one its parenting programmes in Chiang Mai. With support from health professionals and the community, Unicef wants all Thai mothers to breastfeed their infants through the first six months of life. Photos by Jetjaras Na Ranong.

  • Published: 15 May 2013
  • Total views: 7,644

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