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By NBF News
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Appropriate childhood growth and development is to a large extent facilitated by adequate and ideal nutrition. This is because inadequate knowledge of what constitutes genuine nutrition on the part of parents could result into malnutrition and other diseases for infants.

This explained the commitment of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), to a befitting feeding partern for Nigerian babies. It consequently implored nursing and intending mothers to embrace the internationally acceptable six months mandatory exclusive and intensive breastfeeding for the newborn, with subsequent complimentary nutrition from both local foods and natural milk substitutes with continuous breast milk application for a period of two years or more.

The current mode of infants nutrition being canvassed by the Dr Paul Orhii-led NAFDAC is in line with globally recommended health practices. In spite of the various sophistications, human female breast milk remained the most unique, nutritious and dependable commodity suitable for feeding newly born babies in view of its very rich nutritional contents.

Unfortunately, some mothers prefer artificial breast milk substitutes due to work demand and co-bread winners for their families. Some others consider it as stress free alternative while simultaneously helping them to maintain attractive shapes. From whichever perspective, breast milk remains the most highly nutritious and advantageous.

Conscious of the negative implications of current maternal practices whereby breast milk substitutes appear to have taken over the place of natural milk, various countries evolved strategies to encourage nursing and expectant mothers to resort to the use of natural milk. Nigeria is, however, not left out. NAFDAC has since swung into action, impressing it on mothers the need to ensure that their infants are fed exclusively with natural breast milk for six months before ideal breast milk substitutes and locally available foods could be adopted as complimentary nutrients while still continuing with breastfeeding for over two years.

NAFDAC has left no one in doubt as to its determination to achieve a sustainable, durable, dependable health for both old and young Nigerians including infants. This laurel winning agency, is absolutely mindful of the fact that Nigerian infants deserve the best of both care and nutrition to be medically fit so as to confront the perceived socio-economic and political challenges of the future.

It is also aware that the economic, political and social success of any nation is largely dependent on the availability of adequate and highly dependable human resource potentials. Thus, its current insistence on a very good, amiable, reliable and virile developmental background for the nation's infants who incidentally are our tomorrow's adults thereby alluding to the saying that 'it is an egg that becomes a hen.'

NAFDAC has made result-oriented efforts aimed at educating Nigerian mothers in this regard.

These include, placement of pro-exclusive natural breast milk/breast feeding messages on radio, television, daily newspapers, weekly tabloid and magazines, erection and display of billboards at strategic locations nationwide, printing and free distribution of public enlightenment booklets. Complying with the agency's directives has numerous advantages. Apart from fostering a very strong mother-baby relationship, utilizing human female breast milk reduces the risk of mothers developing breast, cervical or ovarian cancers.

It helps to prevent obesity, complications at child birth, maternal mortality as well as check social ills.

Breastfeeding accords babies the opportunity and ability to grow faster, stronger, healthier, happier, garner the needed weight. It reduces risk of infections, allergy potentials, convenience and enables mothers to speedily return to pre-pregnancy weight as well as encourages child spacing.

Therefore, the promotion, protection and outright support for exclusive, intensive and durable breastfeeding should be compulsorily embraced in the interest of our infants, nation and posterity. Breast milk has been proven by experts as incontestably advantageous due to its vantage status as the milk that nature has already provided for babies.

It has the ability to adjust itself during feeding so that infants first gets 'foremilk' which they gulp easily to quench their thirst and desire to suck the eventual richer 'hind milk' which satisfies babies appetite. We must all heed the music of reasoning as being played by NAFDAC since to be forewarned they say is to be forearmed.