A total of 4,329 out of 4,727 babies born in Tema within the first half of the year have received exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, the Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate, has disclosed.
Mr Samuel Atuahene Antwi, Tema Metropolitan Nutritionist, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said 3,025 babies out of the 4,727 births in the first half of the year were initiated to breastfeeding within 30 minutes compared to 3,322 babies out of the 4,768 in 2020.
He added that in 2020 for the same period, 4,348 babies out of 4,768 births were breastfed exclusively for six months.
Mr Antwi observed that data from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) point to the fact that currently in Ghana, only one child in every two, making 52 per cent is put to the breast within the first one hour after birth.
He said the rate of exclusive breastfeeding of children less than six months was reducing, stressing that over 20 per cent of children were given water in their first six months of life.
He said, “In Ghana, breastfeeding is common with nearly all children being breastfed, however the Ghana Demographic Health Survey in 2014 reported an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 52 per cent at six months which is below the optimal EBF rate of 90 per cent in infants less than six months set by the WHO/UNICEF for developing countries.”
The Nutritionist, therefore, encouraged mothers to strictly stick to exclusive breastfeeding of their babies to help build their immune systems and provide them with all the benefits it carries.
He reminded them that exclusive breastfeeding saves the infants’ lives because it contained balanced proportions and sufficient quantities of all the nutrients needed during the first six months.
He said breastmilk also contained antibodies that protected babies against diseases, especially diarrhoea and respiratory infections while the colostrum acts as a laxative to help the baby pass its initial dark stools.
Mr Antwi said breastmilk also promotes growth and development in babies which help prevent stunting.
He stressed that breastmilk also contained the right amount of water, which forms about 80 per cent to meet the baby’s needs and there was no justification to give the baby water.