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‘Bobby Sucking’ Boosts Brain Development

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‘Bobby Sucking’ Boosts Brain Development


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Breastfeeding, commonly known in Sierra Leone as ‘Bobby Sucking’, boosts brain development in babies. This is according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which further revealed that breastfeeding provides children the best start in life. It is a baby’s best source of nutrition, bolstering brain development with lifelong benefits for the mother and the baby.   

Early initiation of breastfeeding (in the first hour of birth), exclusive breastfeeding (between 0-5 months) and continued breastfeeding (6-23 months) offer a powerful line of defense against infection and malnutrition.

In contrast, infants who are not fully or partially breastfed have a higher risk of diarrhoea and are more likely to die from severe malnutrition if they don’t get lifesaving treatment.  

Breastfeeding milk provides all the nutrients babies need until about six months.

Breastmilk substitutes pose significant health risks to vulnerable infants and should only be provided when all other options have been explored. UNICEF and WHO have issued clear guidelines for parents, care givers and health professionals to ensure safe and appropriate use of formula milk.

“As global crises continue to threaten the health and nutrition of millions of babies and children, the vital importance of breastfeeding as the best possible start in life is more critical than ever.

“This World Breastfeeding Week, under its theme Step up for breastfeeding: Educate and Support, UNICEF and WHO are calling on governments to allocate increased resources to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding policies and programmes, especially for the most vulnerable families living in emergency settings.

“During emergencies, including those in Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel, breastfeeding guarantees a safe, nutritious and accessible food source for babies and young children. It offers a powerful line of defense against disease and all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting.
“Breastfeeding also acts as a baby’s first vaccine, protecting them from common childhood illnesses.
“Yet the emotional distress, physical exhaustion, lack of space and privacy, and poor sanitation experienced by mothers in emergency settings mean that many babies are missing out on the benefits of breastfeeding to help them survive.

“Fewer than half of all new-born babies are breastfed in the first hour of life, leaving them more vulnerable to disease and death. And only 44 per cent of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life, short of the World Health Assembly target of 50 per cent by 2025.

“Protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding is more important than ever, not just for protecting our planet as the ultimate natural, sustainable, first food system, but also for the survival, growth, and development of millions of infants.
“That is why UNICEF and WHO are calling on governments, donors, civil society, and the private sector to step up efforts to prioritise investing in breastfeeding support policies and programmes, especially in fragile and food insecure contexts.

Equip health and nutrition workers in facilities and communities with the skills they need to provide quality counselling and practical support to mothers to successfully breastfeed. 

Protect caregivers and health care workers from the unethical marketing influence of the formula industry by fully adopting and implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, including in humanitarian settings.

Implement family-friendly policies that provide mothers with the time, space, and support they need to breastfeed.

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