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INDIA

India has an estimated 61 million stunted infants and children, accounting for 50% and 34% of the global burden for stunting in the respective age brackets. A further 1.7 million Indian children die within the first year of life. These statistics highlight both the need for and the potential impact of widespread uptake of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices.

OUR FINDINGS: 

  • Almost all infants had a history of breastfeeding, either recently or in the past. Of the infants who were breastfed, a high proportion continued to receive breastmilk (in conjunction with other feeds) at 12 months and beyond.

  • Less than one-third of all newborns were breastfed within the first hour of birth and less than half of all infants under six months were exclusively breastfed.

  • The rate of exclusive breastfeeding appears to decline rapidly with increasing age, pointing to the use of non-breastmilk feeds such as water, juice or other milk.

  • Nearly 15% of all Indian infants receive infant formula in place of breastmilk.

  • Just over half of infants aged 6–9 months received appropriate complementary feeds.

INDIA

India has an estimated 61 million stunted infants and children, accounting for 50% and 34% of the global burden for stunting in the respective age brackets. A further 1.7 million Indian children die within the first year of life. These statistics highlight both the need for and the potential impact of widespread uptake of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices.

OUR FINDINGS: 

  • Almost all infants had a history of breastfeeding, either recently or in the past. Of the infants who were breastfed, a high proportion continued to receive breastmilk (in conjunction with other feeds) at 12 months and beyond.

  • Less than one-third of all newborns were breastfed within the first hour of birth and less than half of all infants under six months were exclusively breastfed.

  • The rate of exclusive breastfeeding appears to decline rapidly with increasing age, pointing to the use of non-breastmilk feeds such as water, juice or other milk.

  • Nearly 15% of all Indian infants receive infant formula in place of breastmilk.

  • Just over half of infants aged 6–9 months received appropriate complementary feeds.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: 

  • Utilise existing contact pathways with pregnant women to build skills in appropriate IYCF behaviours.

  • Develop targeted interventions to discourage bottle-feeding among sub-populations with highest usage.

  • Assess the impact of policies protecting breastfeeding (such as those restricting the marketing of breastmilk substitutes) through further research.