Salute globale - salute in infanzia
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Module 1: Global health

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Health and Human Development - Global health - health in infancy

Health in infancy

Sometimes a mother is unable to produce breast milk because of trauma
during and/or after the birth of her baby. General anaesthetics, blood loss
and other emotional and physical trauma can inhibit a mother's milk
production.

Good nutrition during the first two years of life greatly assists a child
to reach its optimum growth and development. Breastfeeding greatly
encourages good nutrition, however, not all mothers breastfeed their
babies. There are a variety of reasons why they don't:

* they don't understand why breastfeeding in important to health

* they don't know how to breastfeed

* they don't have support from family and friends to assist them

* breastfeeding may be culturally undesirable

* they are unable to continue breastfeeding because they must return to
work

* alternatives in the form of infant formula are readily available and
promoted.

An infant requires milk for the first few months of life because the
digestive system has not matured sufficiently to cope with other types of
foods. For this reason, breastfeeding is essential in both industrialised
and developing countries. Then, when an infant is 4-6 months old, solids
can be introduced into their diet

For example, in Australia, the incidence of breastfeeding is quite high,
particularly among Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.
However, the usage drops if the factors of lower socioeconomic status,
lower education levels or a non-English speaking background are present.

Women of the highest socioeconomic groups are twice as likely to
breastfeed for an extended period of time. Formula feeding is quite
expensive and puts further demands on the financial resources of low-income
families.

The benefits of breastfeeding have been promoted through a variety of
activities funded by the Commonwealth Government. World Health Organisation
(WHO) and United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched
the baby friendly hospital initiative in 1991 in an attempt to promote the
Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding.

The steps included practices such as educating all mothers on the
advantages of breast milk, ensuring that newborn babies were kept in the
same room as their mothers, not using feeding bottles and assisting mothers
with any difficulties they may experience when attempting to breastfeed.
They envisaged that this practice would be routine in all hospitals
throughout the world by 1995.

WHO and UNICEF also developed a Code of Marketing Of Breastfeeding
Substitutes as part of this strategy.

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