The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, has said that mothers who breastfeed their babies exclusively have lower risks for cancer, high blood pressure and osteoporosis, among other ailments.
The commissioner, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr. Inodu Nathaniel, described breastfeeding as the best possible source of nutrition and protection for infants.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Breastfeeding: The Foundation of Life’, Etebu also noted that breastfeeding served as the first source of immunisation for children and their healthiest start to life.
He said, “The long-term benefits of breastfeeding are backed by strong scientific evidence. A study shows that long periods of breastfeeding are associated with a reduction in a child’s risk for obesity in adulthood.
“The findings of 16 observational studies conducted over the past few years have proved that breastfeeding enhances the neuro-development of infants and their intellectual and scholastic ability in later life.
“It is also associated with an increase in intelligent quotient from three to four points. These benefits are strong for infants with a low birth weight who were breastfed by their mothers.”
Speaking on the occasion, the representative of UNICEF in the state, Mr. Makio Perekeme, urged nursing mothers to ensure that they breastfed their babies exclusively.
Noting that breast milk contained all the nutrients and water that babies required for development during their first six months of life, Perekeme said, “It is very important to put the baby to your breast within the first 30 minutes after birth to stimulate milk production.