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Don’t feed babies with adult milk – Paediatricians warn parents

A Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Amala Okore, has warned mothers against substituting infant formula with adult milk, saying it can lead to malnutrition or other health complications.

Okore gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to her, a worrisome trend of parents switching from infant formula to cow milk, and adult milk, as a cost-cutting economic measure in Nigeria has emerged.

Okore, who noted that the trend was a fallout of the economic challenges faced by many families, stressed that adult milk and infant formula were not designed the same way.

”The nature of the protein in infant formula is made to be easily digestible for infants.

”They also have micronutrients, high in iron, DHA which helps brain support; adult milk doesn’t have all these.

”In the long-term, we will have malnourished children because they are not getting adequate nutrients from milk.

”Even with the adult milk that some mothers give, they aren’t giving enough because some mothers can only afford one or two sachets of the Dano or Peak milk sold at N120 for a child for a day.

”We are having more malnourished children brought to the health facilities than before,” she said.

Okore maintained that the long-term effect of feeding infants with cow milk was that it would affect brain health and development, which on a national scale would affect productivity and GDP.

”It’s a vicious cycle because sometimes when I counsel the mothers, I know that what I tell them is not practicable because they don’t have the money.

”We all know how the prices of things have been skyrocketing and changing daily.

”Some of these people don’t even earn the minimum wage; you can’t expect them to buy formulas when the small tin costs about N6,000 and if the child eats it the way he should, that tin shouldn’t last more than four days,” she said.

She advised mothers against over-diluting infant milk to extend quantity.

”Where they are supposed to dilute one scoop of infant formula to 30ml they dilute it to 60ml, they are doing it so that the milk will stretch a bit more.

”Ultimately they are giving the child fewer calories and the child will get malnourished in the long run,” she said.

To address this challenge, Okore advised mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for babies below six months.

She emphasised that exclusive breastfeeding would sort calorie issues, boost antibodies, save cost and eliminate hygiene issues for infants.

”From six months, the mother can add complementary feeds for the baby such as pap fortified with crayfish, dates, and soymilk for infants who aren’t allergic to it.

”They can also give family food such as mashed beans, mashed yam, mashed potatoes, mashed rice, vegetables so that the quantity of infant formula they buy won’t be as much as when the infant was primarily being fed with milk-based food,” she said.

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