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Economy

Rise in breastfeeding rate lowers infant malnutrition

Nyeri mums during a breastfeeding campaign. File photo | nmg
Nyeri mums during a breastfeeding campaign. File photo | nmg 

The number of Kenyan infants who are exclusively breastfed up to the age of six months has doubled to 61.4 per cent in the past year, significantly lowering cases of malnutrition.

The higher breastfeeding rate has also made infants less susceptible to opportunistic diseases, according to a report by the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP).

The Human Development Report released yesterday shows that the number of Kenyan infants exclusively breastfed during their first five months went up from the 31.9 per cent mark recorded in the 2015 index.

Kenya was, however, outdone by Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda who recorded 63 per cent, 69.3 per cent and 87.3 Per cent, breastfeeding rates respectively. Only 41.1 per cent of infants below the age of five months were exclusively breastfed in Tanzania.

Exclusive breastfeeding has been on the rise in Kenya owing to consistent campaigns by the government and an improved working environment that allows lactating mothers to express milk while at work.

A human resource policy introduced last year has given employers three years to provide space with electric outlets to enable lactating mothers to express milk as well as break intervals and refrigeration facilities, meaning that the number of exclusively breastfed babies is set to rise.

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