Breastfeeding is first immunization for babies: Pediatric Society

Breastfeeding is first immunization for babies: Pediatric Society

A breastfeeding mother in a lactation room in Yogyakarta, Thursday (June 9, 2022). (ANTARA/Eka AR)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Breastfeeding Task Force of the Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) highlighted the importance of breast milk for infants and stated that breastfeeding is the first immunization for babies.

"Breastfeeding is the first immunization for babies to avoid disease and prevent death," the task force's head, Dr Naomi Esthernita F. Dewanto, noted in a virtual seminar in the context of the commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week, which was followed from here on Saturday.

In addition to containing essential nutrients needed by babies, breast milk has immunoglobulins (antibodies) that strengthen the local gastrointestinal immune system, she remarked.

Breast milk also contains other protective components, such as lactoferrin, which can inhibit the growth of bacteria and lysozyme, which can destroy the bacterial cell walls found in the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, she further explained.

The presence of bioactive substances in breast milk supports the baby's immune system, since at birth, the immunity of the baby is still low.

"Immunoglobulin is passed through breast milk to the baby. Therefore, immunoglobulin is also an immunization, the baby's body defense," she remarked.

Dewanto, who also serves as head of the Pediatric Department of Tarumanegara University, highlighted the decline in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for six months to babies.

She cited data from the Basic Health Research, which showed a decrease in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, from 61.33 percent in 2017 to 37.3 percent in 2018.

The latest record from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) also showed that in 2021, only one in two babies received exclusive breastfeeding for six months, or only 50 percent of the babies, she stated.

According to Dewanto, the advertisements for breast milk substitutes, the lack of family and community support, and limited breastfeeding facilities at the workplace and in public places are factors that affected the decline in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding. 

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