Monday, September 6, 2010

Infant feeding and emergencies

The safety of infant feeding is a topic most people associate with emergencies such as the Pakistan floods or the Haiti earthquake - situations where access to a safe water supply, refrigeration and clean equipment are challenged and babies health put at risk.

You know - in those third world countries.

Not in "safe" places like Australia and New Zealand.

Well, think again. Right now, the Australian State of Victoria is awash with flood water and many homes have lost power and access to drinking water. Across "the ditch", the New Zealand city of Christchurch is in disarray after an earthquake, which has led to sewerage contaminating drinking water supplies, loss of electricity and water and displacement of many people.

Natural disasters have no respect of affluence or sophistication. Right now, in both these situations, formula feeding parents are struggling to find shops that are operating, clean water to mix feeds and refrigeration for storage. Families living in evacuation centres are without feeding equipment and supplies and babies are at risk of gastro-intestinal infection.

It is easy to dismiss the risks of bottle feeding when you live in the modern world. Some people even believe the WHO Code really only applies in Third World countries. But right now, in our own backyards, babies are at risk.

Helpful people are probably already thinking of sending artificial baby milk and bottles to these areas, not realising that without power and water, they are only adding to the risk. Far better is to ensure food and water and shelter for the breastfeeding mothers - NOT to encourage weaning in such risky circumstances.

For more, you can read In Emergencies Breastfeeding Can Save Lives

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