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80 percent of India's infants are underfed, risk death

Last updated: 22 December, 2010
New Delhi, Dec 22, (IANS) : 21:08 IST

A global report released Wednesday has said that over 80 percent of infants born in India each year - 20 million out of a total of 26 million - are insufficiently fed and face the risk of disease and death.

The report on "The State of Breastfeeding in 33 countries: 2010, Tracking Infant and Young Child Feeding Policies and Programmes Worldwide" said that globally out of 136 million babies born each year, only about 50 million practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and 86 million don't.

"In 33 countries where an assessment of policies and programmes on infant and young child feeding was done, out of 78 million born each year, 42 million are sub-optimally fed.

For India, these numbers are 26 million born and 20 million do not practice optimal feeding," the report said.

Norwegian Ambassador to India Ann Ollestad, who released the report, said that it is especially significant since the nations are edging closer to the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2015.

The MDGs refer to the eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015.

These include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease and epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development.

According to World Health Organisation and Unicef, 1.5 million children's lives can be saved with proper breastfeeding and timely and appropriate complementary feeding after six months along with continued breastfeeding.

The report said that almost 8.1 million under-five children die each year - 22,000 everyday - in the world, more than 2.6 million in South Asia and majority being less than one year old because of newborn infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia and associated malnutrition.

The 33 countries included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Zambia.

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