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Exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months urged

By Regina M. Pagaspas
MANILA, April 13 (PIA) - Did you know that Filipino mothers have shortened the duration of breastfeeding their babies exclusively? From what used to be 3 months exclusive breastfeeding, this has now gone down to 2.3 months.

This is according to the 6th and 7th National Nutrition Survey results conducted in 2003 and 2008, respectively by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST).

The revised Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos developed by a team of experts led by the FNRI recommends that infants should be breastfed exclusively from birth up to six months and then be given appropriate complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for two years and beyond. This is to ensure optimum growth and development by the baby.

Exclusive breastfeeding until six months is very important for the infant because it is the only food that the infant needs during this period. Some mothers complain that they do not have enough milk when they give milk formula and other liquids to their infants causing breastmilk flow to decrease. This is because there is less sucking of the baby from the breast when he is given milk substitutes like milk formula and other liquids. The less sucking, the less breastmilk is produced. The sucking reflex during breastfeeding signals the hormone to produce more milk and the more frequent the mother breastfeeds, the more milk is produced.

Mothers should be taught not to give up at once on breastfeeding if they are having difficulty in increasing their milk flow. Instead, teach them not to give any other milk or fluids to their infants other than breastmilk because this will them the opportunity to breastfeed their babies more frequently. With increased milk flow, longer exclusive breastfeeding duration will surely be achieved.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), Gen. Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Telephone/Fax no.: 837-2934, 837-2071 local 2295; e-mail: mvc@fnri.dost.gov.ph; mar_v_capanzana@yahoo.com; FNRI-DOST website: http//www.fnri.gov.ph. (FNRI-DOST S&T Media Service/PIA-Caraga)