ISLAMABAD: The health experts on Monday advised the mothers to avoid the use of formula milk to protect their infants from medical complications.
According to the experts, the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Pakistan was the lowest among the South Asian region, which was 37.1 percent whereas the rate of bottle-feeding was higher in Pakistan in the South Asian region, which was 32.1 percent.
“These indications were thought-provoking as well as alarming as many infants die every year in the country due to complications from using formula milk”, Dr Sobia Faisal, a public health expert said.
She said that these infants could be saved by implementing the breastfeeding practices and avoiding formula milk of national or international brand.
Many formula milk companies had been working in the country to attract the mothers, she added.
She said that these companies through promotional advertisement and innovative planning capture the attention of mothers who consider using formula milk the best option for their babies.
Dr Sobia said in Pakistan, 77 infants died out of 1000 live births every year. Out of these 57 are those who die before reaching one month of age due to diarrhoea, pneumonia, respiratory infections and malnutrition.
A major source of these diseases was a lack of exclusive breastfeeding, use of unhygienic bottles and formula milk, she added.
By avoiding formula milk and encouraging breastfeeding, child and maternal mortality rate could be controlled, she added.
Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that there are different formula milk brands and types while formula milk came in different forms.
He said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended breastfeeding as the best choice for babies as it helped defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.
Dr Sharif Astori from Federal Government Polyclinic (FGPC) said that the breastfeeding contributed to the health and well-being of mothers as it reduced the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
When contacted, an official from the Ministry of National Health Services said that the ministry was working on awareness strategy to educate mothers on the importance of breastfeeding and negative impacts of formula milk use on infants’ health.