Free Press Journal

Bhopal: Two-thirds of newborns in State deprived of ‘liquid gold’


Bhopal: Around 66 per cent of the babies born in Madhya Pradesh are not breast-fed within one hour of their birth, thus depriving them of colostrum – the highly nutritive first milk produced by the mother after delivery – aptly called ‘liquid gold’ and the baby’s ‘first super food’ – which also boosts the newborn’s immunity.

According to the findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) fourth round, breastfeeding is started within one hour of delivery only in 34.5 per cent births in the state. The figure is even lower for the urban areas (31.6 per cent).

Nationally, 41.5 per cent babies get to consume colostrum and the figure is much higher in many other states, including Goa (75.4), Odisha (68.9) and Kerala (63.3). In this respect, only Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jharkhand are worse off than MP. Alarmingly, around 5 per cent children are never breastfed in the state.

Exclusive breastfeeding  

Infants should be exclusively breastfed – i.e. they should receive only breast milk – for the first six months of their life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. However, in Madhya Pradesh 12.4 per cent children are given prelacteal meal i.e. something other than breast milk in the first three days of their life!

And the median duration of exclusive breastfeeding is just 3.3 months i.e. half of the recommended duration. Around 12 per cent of the babies are fed with a bottle and nipple in the first six months of their life. As they grow up, children in the state lag behind their counterparts in other states in terms of fulfillment of dietary requirement, meal frequency and dietary diversity.

Only 6.6 per cent children in the 6-23 months age group get minimum acceptable diet, only 35.7 per cent get meals at minimum frequency and the meals of only 15.6 per cent children have minimum dietary diversity. The minimum acceptable diet means receiving solid or semi-solid food at least three times a day, which includes any edible item from at least four of the seven food groups viz. milk and milk products, grains, fruits, lentils, vegetables, meat and oil. In all these respects, the children born in Madhya Pradesh are far behind other states.

‘Not widespread’

The fact that mother’s milk is of utmost importance to the growth and development of the child makes it a mandatory diet for the baby during its first six months. However, this information is not as widespread a piece of information as it should be, says Soha Moitra, the Regional Director (North) of Child Rights and You (CRY).

Poor healthcare

Only 11.4 per cent of pregnant women in the state avail full ante-natal care, less than 18 per cent of the newborns receiving a proper health check from a doctor or nurse or other affiliated health personnel within two days of birth and only 54 per cent infants within the age-group of 12-23 months are fully immunised (BCG, measles, and three doses each of polio and DPT vaccines).