Over 95k child deaths in Nigeria caused by poor breastfeeding – Report

A report by Nutrition International, a non-profit agency, says optimal breastfeeding can stop over 95,000 child deaths caused by preventable diseases in Nigeria.

The report was published by Nutrition International in collaboration with Alive and Thrive, a non-profit.

At 29 percent, breastfeeding rate in Nigeria is far from the 70 percent target of the World Health Organisation (WHO) by 2030.

According to the report, Nigerians spend about US$106.1 million annually on treatment of beast cancer, type ll diabetes, diarrhea and pneumonia due to inadequate breastfeeding.

“By supporting mothers to follow recommended breastfeeding practices, nearly 50 percent of under-2 child deaths caused by diarrhea and pneumonia could be prevented. In Nigeria, this equates to more than 95,000 preventable deaths of children under age 2 per year,” the report said.

“Every US$1 invested in breastfeeding in low- and middle-income countries can generate as much as US$35 in economic returns. However, in many countries, mothers still face barriers and lack the support needed to achieve the recommended practices of early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding.

“Each year, Nigeria’s children stand to collectively lose more than 13.8 million IQ points due to inadequate breastfeeding practices.

“In Nigeria, only 29 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed for six months, falling well below the World Health Assembly goal of reaching 70 percent by 2030.

“Optimal breastfeeding practices have the potential to save 95,235 children’s lives annually—an important contribution to reducing under-5 child mortality.

“Prevent 2,083 maternal deaths annually from breast and ovarian cancers and type II diabetes. Save US$106.1 million in annual health system treatment costs related to inadequate breastfeeding.

“Prevent the loss of over 13.8 million IQ points in children each year and reduce families’ out-of-pocket costs to treat childhood illnesses. Save families US$2.4 billion that is collectively spent on commercial milk formula each year.”

The report said the government must invest in national programmes that support breastfeeding including paid leave and workplace policies for all workers.

The non-profits recommended increased funding to boost breastfeeding rates from the period the child is born to two years.

“Implement the international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes through national legislation that restricts aggressive marketing and stronger consequences for violators,” the report said.