A Benin-based pediatrician, Dr Samuel Ehinomen, has advised mothers to feed their children with breastmilk exclusively for the first six months of their lives.
Ehinomen gave the advice during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Benin.
He defined exclusive breastfeeding as a protection against diarrhoea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia.
He, speaking against the backdrop of the theme for this year: ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’, said: “Breastfeeding is also known as nursing.
“It is the best way to provide new born babies with the essential nutrients required for growth and development.
“While exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk, no other liquids or solids are given – not even water – with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins.”
He added that the World Health Organisation(WHO) also described breastmilk as the ideal food for infants.
“It is safe, clean, and acts as the babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.”
According to him, breast milk helps boost the immune system of the infant, and lowers the infant mortality rate.
“It also lowers the risk of developing infections such as respiratory tract infections, diabetes, allergic diseases, and childhood leukaemia.
“It also helps enhance the cognitive function of the baby.
“Additionally, breastmilk is extremely nutritious and healthy for the baby and can help the baby develop a healthy weight”, he said.
He noted that breastmilk was extremely nutritious and healthy for the baby because it used to contain antibodies that could help babies fight off viruses and bacteria.