Child malnutrition would decrease by 25 percent if babies were fed only breast milk in the first six months, a UN Children’s Fund nutrition specialist said yesterday.
Chantell Witten was speaking at the Save the Children’s launch of a new report called “A life free of hunger: tackling child nutrition”.
Witten said about 70 percent of babies were being fed solids at two months old and that SA had the lowest proportion of breast-feeding mothers in the world.
Most women fed their babies formula instead because they were in a rush to return to work after giving birth. Women were also scared of breast-feeding their babies if they were HIV-positive or had Aids.
“But things have changed now, the government is rolling out antiretrovirals and pregnant women who are HIV-positive are entitled to get ARVs,” said Witten.
She said mothers were also not breast-feeding because baby formula companies were advertising their products freely without restrictions.
Last year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the low number of women breast-feeding was caused by the aggressive promotion of baby formula and the misperception that breast-feeding was a sign of poverty.
Witten said the first two years of a child’s life were the most important, when children should receive all the necessary nutrients. –