Breast milk, which contains fat, proteins, carbohydrates and various minerals and vitamins, is crucial for children's healthy and disease-free growth. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age and continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary feeds up to two years of age or beyond. It is the perfect food for a new-born. The nutrition it offers is unparalleled. Feeding infants with breast milk has proven a lot of health benefits for the mother and the baby as well, and it can have a profoundly positive effect on the emotional well-being of both. Also, the skin-to-skin contact of breastfeeding boosts the levels of oxytocin (the calming hormone) for the mother.
Recognising the importance of breast milk, every year the world celebrates breast-feeding week from August 1 to 7. However, it is unfortunate that the week is passing this country rather quietly. Only a few programmes are organised on this occasion. But this week should be observed enthusiastically throughout the country since we have not yet been able to set up breastfeeding corners in most of our establishments. We could not even set up a single human breast milk bank for motherless and vulnerable infants. There can be children who are underweight, born early, may have lost their mothers during childbirth or whose mothers are unable to feed them. If we could build breast milk banks, we would be able to provide breast milk to such children through the banks.
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