ON Friday this paper reported on the danger of feeding children under six months grains mixed with other solid foodstuffs.
Speaking during the climax of Breastfeeding Week on Thursday, a nutritionist from Bahi District in Dodoma Region, Ms Neema Ntibagwe, warned that it was unhealthy to feed infants any sold foodstuffs as they were supposed to be exclusively breast fed in the first six months after birth.
Infants are to be exclusively breastfed and if this is not practicable to given baby milk (formula), or a combination of breast milk and formula for the first six months.
Breast milk, and even formula, is more nutritious for them than any solid foodstuffs parents think of. Sometimes the mother may claim she doesn’t have enough milk to breastfeed the child and so ends up resorting to give her child solid foodstuffs.
We have decided to take this point again because we think it is crucial for the health and growth of the child and because of this every reason more public awareness is needed so that parents know what type of food is needed to their children or if they don’t know, where they may get advice from.
One of the problems with mixing grains with other solid foodstuffs is the presence of aflatoxins in some grains.
According to the World Food Programme (WHO), consumption of food containing aflatoxins may affect liver and kidneys, may cause liver cancer, may cause chronic diarrhoea and infectious diseases, malnutrition and immunosuppression and thus may decrease resistance to infectious agents and lead to the death of the child.
Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens produced by certain molds (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus), which grow in soil, decaying vegetation and grains.
They are often found in improperly stored food like cassava, maize, millet, peanuts, rice, sesame seeds, sorghum, sunflower seeds, tree nuts, wheat and some spices.
Many mothers are fond of feeding their babies the so-called nutritious foodstuffs, which they mix on their own believing the mixture is healthy to their children in terms of nutritional value and healthy growth.
But they are unaware whether the foodstuffs they use are free from aflatoxins or not or whether the mixture complies with safe baby food guidelines.
We are sure that if public awareness is promoted and if every parent knows what they have to feed their children or seek medical advice on what type of food it will do a great deal to children and their wellbeing.
Yes, it is good to feed children mixed diet, but it is equally important to feed them only recommended foodstuffs to avoid child health and growth risks.