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Breastfeeding in the First Hour After Birth

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report in Special English. Sometimes simple actions taken at the right time can do a lot of good. A new report says more than 800,000 babies could be saved each year if all mothers begin breastfeeding within the first hour after giving birth. Save the Children released the report. It calls breastfeeding one of the best ways to prevent malnutrition. Hunger is a major killer of children under the age of five. C

arolyn Miles is head of Save the Children. She explains that getting mothers to start breastfeeding can sometimes be the hardest part. The first milk from mothers is called colostrum. This is a highly nutritious form of breast milk. Colostrum helps build the baby's immune system and works best in the first hours after a mother gives birth.

Colostrum is yellowish, sticky breast milk. The World Health Organization calls it the "perfect food for the newborn." Save the Children describes it as a child's "first immunization." But Carolyn Miles says, in some cultures, there is a mistaken belief that colostrum is dangerous. She says mothers in a lot of places around the world throw away the colostrum. The World Health Organization says mothers should feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months.

Carolyn Miles says babies do not need anything else. After six months, the WHO says breastfeeding should continue along with other foods up to two years of age or beyond. The Save the Children report, called "Superfood for Babies," examined barriers to breastfeeding. These include cultural beliefs as well as a shortage of health workers in developing countries. Carolyn Miles says health workers, with basic knowledge, can help mothers start and continue to breastfeed.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 20Feb2013)