Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) has urged all people to maintain proper birth spacing to support mothers in providing exclusive breastfeeding optimally.

"The (recommended) interval between births is 24 months so that the breastfeeding is perfect. In Al Quran, it is 30 months, but the World Health Organization (recommendation) is 36 months. Thus, I think 30 months is already good," BKKBN head Hasto Wardoyo said here on Friday.

Adjusting birth spacing does not only offer benefits in terms of maximizing exclusive breastfeeding, but also reduces the risk of maternal and child mortality, Wardoyo explained.

This is supported by a study carried out by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which found that the ideal age gap between siblings is three to five years.

"This (birth spacing) will benefit families in many things, such as better health and economic planning," he pointed out.

He said that non-optimal breastfeeding, especially in the first 1,000 days of a child's life, which is exacerbated by a birth spacing that is too short, presents a high risk of malnutrition and stunting among children.

He gave the example of West Sumatra province, where, based on on-field monitoring, a correlation was found between stunting and birth spacing.

In West Sumatra, the total fertility rate (TFR) is relatively high, namely, at an average of 2.46, or above the national average of 2.18.

Based on the 2022 Indonesian Nutritional Status Survey (SSGI), the province's stunting prevalence stood at around 25.2 percent. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s national stunting prevalence stood at 21.6 percent, according to the 2022 SSGI.

"This means that there are a lot of children in West Sumatra; on average, one woman gives birth to quite many (children). It is dangerous; the (birth) interval may get too short, and the result would be high stunting (rate)," he said.

Therefore, in addition to suggesting the use of contraceptives so that mothers can get time to provide breastfeeding, he also asked all regions to increase and absorb the Special Allocation Funds (DAK) and Family Planning Operational Assistance (BOKB) for 2023 to maximize stunting handling efforts.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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