Data shows most newborns are breastfed in St. Kitts & Nevis

Basseterre, St. Kitts, Saturday, 24th August, 2019, ( – St. Kitts and Nevis is now wrapping up a weeklong period of celebration to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding.

The week, which ran from 18th – 24th August, sought to highlight the health benefits of breastfeeding, and was held under the theme “Protect Breastfeeding in the Workplace”.

Data obtained from both JNF General Hospital on St. Kitts and Alexandra Hospital on Nevis demonstrate that the rate among newborns with exclusive breastfeeding by the time of hospital discharge was 80% to 100% during the period February – May 2019, said Junior Minister of Health, Wendy Phipps, when she declared the week open during a media broadcast.

By extension, she added, during the same period, both hospitals recorded a range of 85% to 100% for babies who were breastfed within one (1) of hour of life.

Phipps also stated that data obtained from the USAID Assist project demonstrate that at the start of the project in September 2018 only 40% of babies were being breastfed within one hour of birth.

However, by May 2019, this figure shot up to 100%. Marked improvements were also seen insofar as (a) skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth; and (b) the number of babies who were exclusively breastfed by the time of hospital discharge.

The Federal Ministry of Health has, for decades, consistently advocated for the time-honoured, maternal practice of breastfeeding, given the numerous health benefits to both mother and child, said the senator.

Human history provides undeniable proof that the survival of our race could not have been possible without the consistent practice of breastfeeding.

The WHO has also estimated that the lives of over 820,000 infants under the age of five (5) could be spared if breastfeeding practices are optimized.

Moreover, the good nutrition provided in breast milk is clearly linked to improvements in Intelligence Quotient (IQ), school attendance, and higher incomes in adulthood – as children who are healthy and well-fed learn better, and generally obtain better grades and higher levels of education which together improve earnings over time.

Unfortunately, poor nutrition is clearly linked to some 45% of all global deaths of children.

In 2016 alone, some 155 million children under the age of five (5) were deemed to be too short for their age, while about 52 million were deemed to be too thin for their height, and another 41 million were classified as overweight or obese.

However, it is being reported globally that only two out of every five newborns are breastfed within one hour of birth. Additionally, only 40 percent of children under the age of six (6) months are being breastfed exclusively.

The other 60 percent are being fed a combination of breast milk and complementary food.

Breastfeeding policies and practices in St. Kitts and Nevis continue to be informed by a number of international agreements and guidelines pertaining to breastfeeding, and maternal and child health.