Experts say water unnecessary during exclusive breastfeeding

Nutritionists and paediatricians have reaffirmed that giving water to babies in their first six months when they are undergoing exclusive breastfeeding is unnecessary.

The experts, made the declaration at a one-day symposium orgaanised by Promasidor Nigeria Limited on Tuesday in Enugu. The theme of the symposium was ‘The Nutrition Wisdom of Infant Feeding Choices.”

They include Professor (Mrs.) Ngozi Nnam, the President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Dr Ngozi Ibeziako, President of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mrs. Stella Umunna, a retired Deputy Director/ Head of Nursing at Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital in Anambra State and Dr Patrick Eze, former National President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).

They also called on husbands, mothers-in-laws, government and the society in general to support women to exclusively breastfeed their babies in the first six months and apply wisdom in introducing alternatives afterwards.

While stressing on the need for massive enlightenment campaigns for women and their husbands on the importance of breastfeeding, Mrs. Stella Umunna insisted: “They should be made to understand that water is not necessary when a child is being exclusively breastfed in the first six months.”

Her position was supported by Ibeziako, who stated that parents should understand that 80 per cent of breast milk is water. She also appealed to health workers to assist in informing women on the benefits of breastfeeding, while also advocating for baby-friendly hospitals and work places.

Delivering the lead paper earlier, Prof. Nnam averred that exclusive breastfeeding is a complete nutritional source for infants for the first six months of life, because breast milk contains all the essential nutrients, bio-active compounds and anti-infective factors needed by the infant for the first six months of life.

Her words: “Human milk contains water, fat, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, some hormones, enzymes, growth factors, essential fatty acids and immunological factors that play vital roles for adequate development and growth of the infant.”

According to her, the nutrients contained in breast milk are adequate in quantity and quality to promote optimal growth and development of infants. She explained that composition of breast milk has been designed by nature to provide all the nutrient needs of the infant, make for easy digestion and assimilation by infants.

In his welcome address, Mr. Kachi Onubogu, Commercial Director, Promasidor Nigeria said the company produces quality and affordable nutritional products that are good for all categories of people. He also stated that the company was organising the event because it wants Nigerian children to be well nourished and strong. It would be recalled that the first edition of the symposium took place in Lagos about a month ago.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 3, 2016.


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