BENIN CITY – A former Director, Institute of Child Health (ICH) and Consultant Paediatrician/Neontologist, ICH and University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Professor Charles Eregie has upheld that breast milk is the living human food; anytime you breast feed, you touch the brain of the child.
Submitting his position at the monthly seminar of the ICH, when he gave the lecture, “Breast milk not formula: Formula not breast milk substitute,” Prof. Eregie informed participants that breast feeding was more than just feeding as it was both a source of food, health and care. He encouraged husband’s to be part of the process for optimal family bonding.
Stating that breast milk was milk produced by the breasts of a mammalian female to feed it’s offsprings, he made the distinction between breast milk substitute and formula.
He stated that breast milk substitute was food marketed or otherwise represented as a partial or total replacement for breast milk whether or not suitable for that purpose while formula was manufactured food designed and marketed for feeding babies and infants under 12months of age, usually prepared for bottle or cup feeding.
Haven critically examined the composition of baby formula against that of breast milk, he informed participants that the benefits of breast milk could not be compromised as it was adaptive to- infants satiety; to day – night cycle/ diurnal variation; to infants stage of development and mother – infant development.
Speaking on, “The code: The dream law for marketing breast milk substitute,” Prof. Eregie said, “Believing that, in the light of the foregoing considerations and in view of the vulnerability of infants in the early months of life and the risks involved in inappropriate feeding practices, including the unnecessary and improper use of breast milk substitutes, the marketing of breast milk substitutes requires special treatment, which makes usual marketing practices unsuitable for these products.”
He maintained that despite the aggressive marketing strategies for breast milk substitutes, in the absence of HIV/AIDS or other threatening health conditions, breast milk remained the dynamic human living food. This meant that breast milk was not a baby formula and that there is no breast milk substitute, he quipped.
Mrs. Ezeuko Juliet, a participant at the seminar stated that, as a nursing mother, she gained so much knowledge on the merits of breast feeding. However, called for increased awareness so that more people can key into the practice.
Mrs. Gloria Erhabor of the Institute of Health Technology, UBTH, praised the lecturer but sued for the rejigging/rekindling of the UBTH breast feeding committee.
Director, ICH, Professor Ayebo Sadoh on her part, put the data for exclusive breast feeding in Nigeria at 17%. She stated that findings at Oluku by the institute during this last World Immunization week showed a confusion with breast feeding as some mothers during an interaction process were found to have breast fed exclusively for 10months while others introduced feeds at 3-4 months.