Exclusive breastfeeding can prevent allergies in babies, a medical doctor has said.

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Ene Ochaba of Faith Mediplex Hospital, Benin, told NAN that breastfeeding helps in defending children against infections.

She said it would also prevent allergies and protect infants against a number of chronic conditions.

The medical doctor described exclusive breastfeeding as feeding the baby with only breast milk for the first six months of life.

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“Breast feeding lowers your baby’s risk of having allergies, also babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and occasional diarrhoea,” she said.

“Breast milk is not static, but changes as the baby grows to meet the requirement; its constituents are just in the right amount and it strengthens their immune system to fight against infections.”

According to Ochaba, that is why it is medically advised that mothers should breast feed exclusively for six months after which they can introduce complementary feeding.

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“When the baby is one month, the milk produced is different from the second month down to the sixth month; it’s readily available, so there isn’t any delay from its preparation; it also saves money for the family.

She added that even after introducing complementary feeding, breastfeeding should be continued until the child is eventually weaned off the breast milk for at least one year.

Ochaba said breast milk contained antibodies, anti-viral and vitamin A which protect the baby against infections.

She said that it promotes quick recovery for sick babies and ensures that they have fewer hospitalisations.

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“It’s a natural milk specially designed to cater for the needs of babies; the more the baby sucks, the more the milk is produced and once artificial milk is introduced to the baby the body supply of milk starts reducing.”

She said exclusive breastfeeding encouraged bonding between mother and child, and helped involution of the womb through the release of the hormone oxytocin.

The expert further explained that it helped in child spacing, while lowering risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Noting that hygiene was most essential for nursing mothers, Ochaba emphasised the need for bathing and washing hands regularly.

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“Mothers should wash their hands and clean their nipples before and after feeding their babies,” she said.

The doctor also advised nursing mothers to use absorbable breast pads in order to avoid the milk from soaking their clothes; because any moisture around the cloth can promote infection.



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