Study Shows Decrease in Infants Breastfeeding in Cambodia

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Two women from Ratanakiri province breastfeeding their children (Photo by Charles Pieters).

By Cecelia Marshall for The Khmer Times

PHNOM PENH, August 8, (Khmer Times) — International reports highlight that breastfeeding is one of the most cost effective ways to improve health and prevent illness among children.

But in developing countries such as Cambodia there is a growing trend to use breast milk substitutes.

Breast milk substitutes are “any food being marketed or presented as a partial or total replacement for breast milk, whether or not suitable for that purpose,” put out by the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

An article written by members of UNICEF and the Maternal and Child Health Center in Cambodia for Nutrients Journal found that the number of infants not being breatfed during their first six months doubled in the five years from 2000 to 2005.  The following five years did not see an increase in breast milk substitute feeding possibly to due to public health campaigns.

More children (from infancy until the age of two) were being given breast milk substitutes in both urban and rural areas.  But the greatest increase in bottle use was within the urban poor community, the study indicated.

Cambodia has made improvements in early breastfeeding; the number of breastfed infants increased from 11percent in 2000 to 74 percent in 2010.

Children who are not breastfed and living under poor sanitary conditions are six to 25 times more likely to die from diarrhea, and four times more likely to die from pneumonia than a breastfed child.

“In order to improve the health of Cambodia’s children there is a need for promotion, protection, and support of optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices,” the paper wrote.

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