Compared to children who are breastfed from birth, children who are not given breast milk stand the risk of dying.
The Director, State Nutrition Officer, Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, Mrs Joan Songo Awotunde stated this as one of the key risks involved in not breast feeding an infant.
Awotunde, who stated this, at a two-day Advocacy/ Orientation meeting for women in policy making and wives of policy makers on breast-feeding held on Monday in Port Harcourt said myriads of women fail to breast feed their children without considering the risk involved.
Speaking on the topic, “Benefits of breast-feeding”, Mrs Awotunde said, the risk in not breast- feeding children from infancy are enormous.
According to her, firstly, an infant that is not given the first breast milk from its mother on delivery, misses its first immunisation from the colostrums.
She stated that a child that is given infant formula in place of breast milk, would lack the inherent antibodies in breast milk, and hence likely to be exposed to frequent respiratory infections.
Other risks include greater risk of malnutrition, especially for younger infants, lower scores on intelligence tests and lower ability to learn at school.
There is also the issue of possible poorer bonding between mother and infant.
For the mother, not breast feeding her child could expose her to the occurrence of ovarian cancer.